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The next-to-final hurdle to Yoenis Cespedes joining a Major League team has been cleared, according to multiple reports.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfielder has received a visitor’s visa from the United States, and will head to Miami today to meet with his agent, Adam Katz. From there, he’s expected to meet with the Marlins, and will take a tour of the facilities there, probably tomorrow. In other words, the Marlins are going to put on the hard sell.

Cespedes has not yet received a work visa, necessary to sign with a team, but it’s fair to assume that will be coming soon.

As for meeting with the Marlins, I wouldn’t read too much into it, as it was expected to happen. The fact that it is his first Stateside meeting doesn’t mean much given that he’ll probably meet with a number of teams (including the Cubs) before he actually signs, and has already met with various members of the Cubs’ front office over the past couple months in the Dominican Republic.

Bruce Levine believes Cespedes will be in the States for just a few days, and may not meet with any other teams during this visit. From there, he’ll head back to the DR to await his work visa (for all we know, his travel visa was conditional on him going to Miami for a few days only, and then heading back to the DR). Ken Rosenthal says it’s possible other teams’ executives will head down to Miami to meet with Cespedes.

Here’s hoping his work visa doesn’t come through while he’s in Miami, and then the Marlins make him a you-must-accept-this-before-you-leave kind of offer.

  • Spencer

    Is it confirmed that members of the the front office met with him while they were in the DR?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, by Cespedes, himself – he said they (we don’t know who, exactly) took him to dinner multiple times. What we don’t know for sure is if the Ricketts folks met with him last week when they were in the DR (I only suspect it).

  • edgar

    Marlins are starting to piss me off. Trying to be like the Yankees, its going to be funny when Ramirez wants a trade, Ozzie and Z beat each other up on the mound, and Reyes legs fall off.

    • Toosh

      I would take the Marlins’ last 19 seasons over the Cubs’.

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        I’m starting to suspect I should take the Cubs next 19 seasons over the Marlins.

  • JulioZuleta

    If the Marlins get irresponsible with the bidding, I’m more than happy to let him go. I’m really torn on whether or not I want him at this point.

    • CubFan Paul

      i dont think miami can get irresponsible with the bidding. the new high profile additions alone for 2012 (Heath Bell $6M, Mark Buehrle $6M, Jose Reyes $10M) are costing $22M already
      http://joefrisaro.mlblogs.com/2012/01/30/seven-offseason-signings-costing-31-585-million/
      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/?page_id=82 (for the newbs)

      also, RHP anibel sanchez kicked them in the nuts by winning a $4.3M raise in arbitration. Add in Chris Volstad’s salary (they have Z of course) and other arbitration eligibles (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/09/arbitration-eligibles-florida-marlins.html) and new additions and it would appear they’ve reached their cash limit and Cespedes is using the Marlins to goat the cubs (bruce’s report that he may not meet with any other teams during this visit)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Eh – they could always backload like crazy.

        • CubFan Paul

          Cespedes’ contract will be back loaded anyway with him not making very much in the 1st two years like all cuban contracts/having to spend time in the minors. The *signing bonus* is going to be the big thing with negotiations (Cincy landed Chapman with a $16M bonus out of nowhere). thats why i said it would appear they’ve reached their cash limit/might not be able to afford a Chapman like bonus (Cespedes probably wants more than $16M)

  • K Rock

    I can honestly say when it comes down to swaying a Free Agent, Theo and Co. are much better than Miami, and we have much more to sell as the future builds. I’m sure his agent knows our pockets are and will be deeper down the road compared to Miami

  • Dante Hicks

    I agree with Julio Zuleta (damn fine screen name). Is he worth 60 million? There are a million reasons yes and no. In the end, I do want him, but within a limit. Maybe you get Soler instead. Or both. My point is that if it becomes an insane bidding war, with a couple of insane people (Ozzie and Miami ownership) you stay patient and move on.

    And, no matter what was reported a few weeks ago, the Cuban community in Miami can’t be matched here in Chicago. If that tugs his heart strings, the Cubs have no chance. If he doesn’t care about fish tanks behind home plate and a really weak fan base (even in Little Havana), the Cubs are still in the game. But, it is not a tragedy or change the cubs position at all. Theo and Co will stay on the true path.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    How much do you think the Concepción signing helps with getting Cespedes? And then Soler!?

    • Dante Hicks

      according to a tweet from Kevin Goldstein the other day, nothing. But, who can really say. Goldstein might have better sources than me though.

    • Noah

      Very little and probably none. Concepcion is probably going to start at Daytona, with an eye towards him moving up to Tennessee fairly quickly. Soler is probably expected to spend nearly the entire year in Low A wherever he goes, since he’s very raw. Cespedes might start very briefly in AA, but will likely be in AAA for a good period of time before going up to the Majors. They just aren’t going to be at the same levels together.

    • JulioZuleta

      Realistically, none. First of all, Cespedes won’t be playing at the same level as Concepcion, and there’s a decent chance he and Soler don’t even know each other. Soler only played in the league for a very short time at the end of the season.

      That being said, I do think the fact that we signed Concepcion makes it more likely that we will get Soler and/or Cespedes, but not because of the fact that Concepcion is with the organization, I think if anything it shows the Cubs are dedicated to spending a lot of money on Cuban talent, and possibly shows that our facility in the DR carries some weight.

      Maybe a little confusing here, but to summarize, I don’t think signing Concepcion HELPS us get the other two, but the fact that we did sign him makes it more likely that we’ll get one of the other two.

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        Keep in mind as well that the Cubs are not exactly new to the Cuban defector scene. I think they’ve signed four or five just over the past two years and were major players on several others. Odds are good that Cespedes and Soler are already somewhat positively influenced towards the Cubs just from that history. Signing Concepcion doesn’t hurt, but the reason that is doesn’t help is it is nothing new. The Cubs had demonstrated a commitment to Latin American talent of all nations long before Cespedes ever defected.

    • Mick

      I’d agree that the Concepcion signing has little to do with Cespedes and Soler other than well there’s another Cuban defect in the farm system. I think the main feature the Cubs can offer Cespedes is the new baseball academy being constructted in his new home country. It’s a pretty nice perk that in the off-season Cespedes would have access to the best baseball facility in the Carribean to train and stay engaged with his new franchise.

      Should we extend ourselves to $60 million to sign Cespedes, now that’s the real question. If it’s straight up 6 year $60 million, I would say no. I’d rather bank that money for the next off-season when ideally the Cubs could target 2 top FA starting pitchers such as Greinke and Hammels. I think this FO is way smarter than to offer a huge guranteed contract to Cespedes though. I expect them to craft some sort of a genius contract which includes option years and performance-laden incentives.

      • ogyu

        That’s “Cuban defector,” not “Cuban defect.” Slight difference…

        • Mick

          Ha, you’re right. But that kind of plays into the incentive-laden contract I was talking about, you know, in case he’s a defect.

  • rcleven

    I hope Theo and gang are heading to Miami with a very warm coat before Cespedes makes his visit to Wrigley.

    • Brian

      He doesn’t have to live in Chicago during the winter and IMO the rest of the year, ball time, is better in the Mid West.

      • cls

        Bingo! Summer here > Summer in South Florida

      • rcleven

        He is going to play in Iowa in spring.

  • BleedBlueinWNeb

    I hope we get them both! bottom line is this…based on Theo and McCleod’s visits and interest level in this guy he clearly has talent. we didn’t make an aggressive push for Darvish because the money was steep w/ posting fee included, but this time around it makes sense to push the envelope (filled w/ T.R.’s money) a little bit. I mean no front office is going to bat a thousand so mistakes are going to be made and i see no reason why we shouldn’t do what it takes to sign this cat daddy!

    Soler too!

    • Brian

      Right on- That $50+ mill just to talk to Darvishes team is absurd. That is real money to spend directly on real talent x2, we hope.

  • Brian

    To bad Theo didn’t have Katz up in Chicago for a timely visit, instead of down in Miami.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Carrie Muskat just updated her blog with the new Cubs players uniform numbers. Tony Campana switched to #1 and Jeff Baker switched to #3. The interesting one is Dave Sappalt is #17 and as of right now Matt Garza doesn’t have a uniform number assigned to him.

    • njriv

      He’s probably going to get his old #22 back

    • ferrets_bueller

      that is indeed strange. Maybe he’s going back to 21 now that Colvin is gone.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hmm. Maybe he’s mulling it over.

  • pfk

    I’d bet the mortgage that he signs with the Marlins. He’ll love the new stadium, speaking Spanish with Ozzie, the large Cuban community there, and the money will be very good.

    • Mike Foster

      I hate to agree, but I do. I just hope it’s for STUPID money, then I won’t feel like we missed out.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Andy Sonnanstine is #21

    • ferrets_bueller

      Then I’d guess he’d go to 22, which was his second number after 21, with Pena no longer wearing it.

    • Brian

      Why wouldn’t Garza have first crack at whatever number he wanted?

      • ferrets_bueller

        because Pena and Colvin had 21 and 22 already when he came here.

        • Brian

          Understood, but both numbers should have be vacant now, since Sonnanstine is the new comer.

  • Luis Salazar

    Does anyone really know what his criteria is for where he wants to play? Is it only about money? I realize this could be his only contract. Does he care about winning right away? How important is weather, location, and culture? It would seem that the Cubs can’t offer him anything other than the highest contract, which seems like a mistake IMO…

  • Dave

    I would imagine the Marlins have the upper hand here. If he ends up only meeting with them and no other team does that indicate he already has an agreement in place with the Marlins and is just there to visti before making it offical..
    Atmosphere aside Wrigley is going to look like garbage next to the Marlins new park.

    • Luis Salazar

      Yeah, I am trying to think what would appeal to a mid-twenties Cuban coming to the U.S.? Shit loads of money, cool new stadium, and warm weather…. That’s about all i can come up with.

      • cls

        Two chicks at the same time.

        • Toosh

          Almost every man’s fantasy.

        • Luis Salazar

          Good point. Add that to the list… Make it happen Theo!

          • Brian

            I think $60 million could accomplish that for you!

            • cjdubbya

              If Lawrence is to be believed, if Cespedes gets $60 million, he’ll be able to hook that up, sixty times over. Frankin’ A, man…

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        Maybe not warm weather. If all you are used to is warm weather and you’ve never seen snow (or least not much), it might sound kind of interesting to live in a city that has a winter.

        I imagine that opinion changes after the first winter, but by then he’s under contract.

      • JustSwain

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always got the impression that Cuban Nationals had a really strong respect for the history of baseball. I’m sure it varies from individual to individual, but just because Cespedes is a young Cuban man doesn’t mean he is willing to play in a baseball themed amusement park. Also, if you were to move to a new country would your priority be to move to a section of that country where the climate and culture were closest to your own? I think different people answer that question differently, and none of us have asked it to Cespedes yet. Its possible he’ll sign with the Marlins because he likes a manager who speaks spanish, its also possible he’ll sign with the Cubs because he loves deep dish pizza, but right now this is wild speculation.

  • Spencer

    Is it pretty much a consensus everywhere that whichever team signs Cespedes will have him on their Opening Day roster? Or would he technically be a “prospect”? I just remember hearing that if the Cubs signed the Big Three of Cubans that were available this offseason it would dramatically change the rankings of their minor league system, but if Cespedes broke camp with the big league team, then I would think his signing wouldn’t affect how the minor league system is ranked. After re-reading this comment I have concluded it does not make much sense.

    • Kyle

      It really depends on the list, but most lists would include him until he’s accrued enough MLB playing time to no longer be a rookie (150 PAs? I can’t remember).

      But the consensus is he’ll need at least some AAA time, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, to get acclimated to America.

  • gritsngravy

    I think that overpaying for cespedes would be insane at this point. The reality is we are looking at a 3 year plan and I see Soler being a better option. The only thing I see Theo and company doing is driving up the price to tie the Marlin’s hands for the future. I think Cepedes has alot of upside for sure but the price will be insane. It’s not my money but the fact is the guy is unproven and the much younger Soler is a better bet.

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      $60 million, if he gets that much, really isn’t all that insane, assuming it comes over all six years of team control. That’s only $10 million a year. That amount is roughly equivalent to a WAR of around 2.0. Considering he is likely to be a very good defensive corner outfielder, his defense will start him with a WAR of around 1.0. All he has to do is put up mediocre numbers at the plate and his value matches his contract. If he can stick in center, less than mediocre numbers probably get it done.

      Over a full season, that is.

  • gritsngravy

    I have killed many hours on this website at work. I am glad I stumbled across it. Thanks Brett for all of the information. I get tired of carrie muskat all of the time.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for that, GnG.

  • gritsngravy

    No problem keep up the good work.

  • die hard

    Cubs have no one to compete with Marlins’ mgr Ozzie in convincing Latin players to play for him.

  • BleedBlueinWestNeb

    MLBTR story on Cespedes doesn’t point a rosy outlook for him coming to the Cubs. his agent spoke on mlbnetwork radio today and he said he’d like to play for the marlins. Numerous outlets reporting the Marlins as the frontrunner. the way the story read it almost seems like a forgone conclusion…well, THAT SUCKS. i wanted something to be really excited about besides Theo, jed n company!

  • BleedBlueinWestNeb

    sounds like we’ll be on the edge of our seats for the OBESSIVE WATCH: JORGE SOLER

  • 2much2say

    Keep an eye on Kenny Williams. He has a way of pulling Cubans out of his hat.
    Theo needs to get this done but at what cost?
    Marlins are looking to create an all Hispanic team.
    If I were a betting man I take desparation over money….. Theo is most desparate.

  • 2much2say

    If you’re representing Cespedes every team is on his wish list. Miami is the most obnoxious, so that’s the card he’s playing. Money/years plays. If this kid flops his agent wants him locked up for as long as possible.

  • 2much2say

    Cubs: “We would like to talk to Ebstein” Boston: We need significant comp Kenney: Like? Boston: Garza? Kenney: Sure Ricketts: He was kidding (gives Kenney the stink eye) Ricketts whispers to Kenney (stfu) Kenney: Can I just run the business side? Ricketts: You mean like Mcdonalds? Kenney: Yep Ricketts OK ….2 weeks later Ricketts: Who paid 20 ml for the Mcdonalds?? Kenney: Was that wrong? I mean you said?

  • 2much2say

    Kenney: Can I just run the business side? Ricketts: You mean like Mcdonalds? Kenney: Yep Ricketts OK ….2 weeks later Ricketts: Who paid 20 ml for the Mcdonalds?? Kenney: Was that wrong? I mean you said?

  • 2much2say

    Ricketts: Is there a big sign on my head that says Screw me Kenney: No ….2 weeks later Ricketts: Who ordered a 75 foot Sign? Kenney: That would be me. Ricketts: I give up Kenney: Does that mean I am CEO now?

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