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Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was in Miami earlier this week to visit with the Marlins – and possibly only the Marlins – who enter the 2012 season with a revamped roster, and a new manager.

That manager, Ozzie Guillen, was asked yesterday about the possibility of adding Cespedes to the team, and his response was … odd. Or, perhaps it was par for the course for Ozzie. From ESPN:

“I heard Mr. Samson say something very interesting yesterday,” Guillen said on the “Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “He said, ‘We have a great ballclub. And we’re happy with what we have.'”

Call it posturing, but Guillen said the Marlins aren’t the only team in the running, saying he thinks “they’re promoting this kid all over the place. That’s why you have an agent. You as a player, you know where you want to go.”

Cespedes met with the Marlins and toured their new ballpark on Wednesday. He was possibly headed back to the Dominican Republic, where he has obtained residency, Thursday, but it’s not clear if that happened.

His agent, Adam Katz, said Cespedes did not speak to other teams while in Florida. The Cubs, White Sox and Tigers are among the teams that have shown interest.

“We went to the Dominican Republic, myself and 10 guys,” Guillen said. ” We went to see this kid. He’s pretty impressive. They compare this kid with a lot of people. They compare this kid with Bo Jackson. Well Bo Jackson wasn’t a baseball player. This kid is a baseball player. They compare him with (Raul) Mondesi. I think Mondesi was better than him. That’s my own opinion. Mondesi has a better arm, faster, but this kid is pretty good.”

There has been speculation that Cespedes could command a $60 million contract. That commitment makes Guillen nervous.

“There are a lot of question marks out there,” he said. “How’s he going to handle major league pitching? We don’t know. How’s he going to handle major league media? We don’t know. There are a lot of ifs. Whoever signs him is gambling.”

Some reactions:

(1) I actually think Ozzie is a very smart guy, and the suggestion that he could simply be playing the game, and trying to obscure the Marlins’ interest in order to gain a bargaining advantage is, of course, legitimate.

(2) If not, Ozzie could genuinely have concerns about Cespedes, and be trying to convey those concerns to the Marlins’ front office. It wouldn’t be the first time that Ozzie sent some subtle – or not so subtle – messages up the chain via the media.

(3) It’s even possible that Guillen knows the Marlins aren’t going to get Cespedes, and he’s setting fans up not to be disappointed (why else lead with “we don’t need him” and end with “he’s a gamble”?).

That all said, it occurs to me that, because Cespedes can reach an agreement but can’t execute a contract, there is an additional explanation for how things played out this week. It’s possible that all teams had their best and final offers on the table, and Cespedes was pretty sure he wanted to accept the Marlins’ offer. So, he secured a travel visa, came to Miami to check things out and meet with management. There, the two sides finalized their agreement, but, again, because he can’t execute the agreement yet, there was nothing else to be done. So, Cespedes headed back to the DR, and Miami brass had no comment – why would they, if an agreement was reached, but nothing could be announced?

That explanation of events seems as reasonable as any other, though it is admittedly hard to square with Guillen’s comments yesterday (which would have come after the hypothesized agreement was in place). It’s easy to square with sources coming out on Wednesday and Thursday (including a source of mine) saying Cespedes is likely to sign with the Marlins, however.

I guess it would be obsessive if we didn’t concoct dueling, plausible theories.

(There is a report floating around from a Spanish-language publication called Cafe Fuerte – the legitimacy of which I’ve not been able to verify (either the report or the publication, in general) – that Cespedes received a six-year, $40 million offer from the Marlins on his trip to Miami (h/t CubsDen). If true, that certainly seems like an offer the Cubs could beat – and, recall, George Ofman reported on Thursday that Cespedes had already received at least one offer higher than the Marlins’ offer. So, it’s possible that Cespedes has received a 6/$40M offer from the Marlins, and something higher than that from another team. Maybe the Marlins are trying to leverage the attractiveness of their city into getting Cespedes at a cheaper price? Who knows. These are very much just rumors, mind you – thus its placement in a parenthetical at the end of an article, concluded by an ominous elipses….)

  • Doug

    Gut feeling Brett?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Gut says he ends up with the Marlins on a deal worth slightly less than he could have gotten, for example, from the Cubs.

      • Doug

        As Charlie Brown always said right after Lucy pulled the football away, “AAARRRGGGHHHH!!! Good Grief!!!” Any team but the Marlins!!

        I am really starting to hate everything about Miami. It all began with the dog and pony show the Heat pulled when introducing the Big Three in full Rock Concert style.

        I know I am coming across bitter and jealous. And I guess I am. I just wish the big name free agents and prospects Miami is grabbing would have landed in real baseball cities. Not necessarily on the North Side of Chicago but at least in cities where the fans really love what I consider the greatest game on the planet.

        Miami has never come across as a baseball city. I’m sure they have SOME very dedicated fans but we’re talking about a team that had a hard time drawing 18,000 a game even in World Series Championship years.

        Of course I can’t blame the players for signing there. Between state of the art facilities and a boat load of dead presidents you would be a fool to turn them down.

        Obviously Miami makes perfect sense for Cespedes but It does make me wonder…How many players do we lose out on when the money is close because of our park?

        Don’t get me wrong, Wrigley is the best park in baseball to see a game. Would any of us feel that way as players though??? No batting cages, crappy locker rooms, all the day games? I know Garza like them but he’s probably in the minority.

        Are we competing on a level playing field?

  • Doc Evans

    I guess I am kind of baffled as to why Cespedes only met with the Marlins while in the US… Not that I believe that he will sign with Miami, I just feel that this process is going to be dragged out for longer than this week.

    • Brady

      Maybe it was to inform them that at 6/40 they were not going to get him and though he may want to play there, will go somewhere else. Trying to get them to match a better deal he has already been offered. Reading Ozzie’s interview it doesnt sound like the trip turned out to be what the Marlins wanted and maybe they cant or chose not to put forth the extra dough on Cespedes and that is forcing him elsewhere.

  • 2much2say

    What Ozzie was preparing Cespedes for is to start out in the Minors. Maybe the hold up on an agreement is Cespedes demanding a spot on the 25 man roster.

    • jerry

      In that same interview Ozzie also said that Cespedes has said that he will not play in the minors.Thats just crazy if thats the case.

  • Elephanthole

    Its possible the Marlin’s knew he had a better offer from another team so as a last ditch effort the Marlin’s flew him in to try to get him to change his mind and accept their low money offer.

  • cubmig

    So much speculation. I read the Spanish article, and according to his agent Adam Katz, it sounds like the possibility for checking out other offers is still on the table. I’m not going to hold my breadth. I do believe this though: If Cespedes chooses Miami, it’ll be because of the strong Cuban culture present there. Just my opinion.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Looks like the Marlins built up hype, then lowballed yet another guy. 6/40? (as MLBTR reports) Thats not a whole lot, and something I expect to easily be outbid. Thats actually still a pretty damn safe offer.
    This whole Marlins thing really reminds me of when a sub-par college football program goes after a top recruit, goes all out, shows him everything, does everything they possibly can…..and then, at the end of the day, they’re still just IU. (zing! of course, from a Purdue guy).
    You get what I mean, though.

    • Richard Nose

      .

    • OlderStyle

      Yeah, but last Saturday’s game was beauty, wasn’t it?

  • http://Cubbie4life.weebly.com Tonycampanathebasethief

    A source sat Miami offered less than 40 million
    My guess is cespedes goes to cubs on 6 years 45-50 million

  • Roughriider

    My guess is Cubs don’t get him and are reallllllllly glad they didn’t down the road.

    • Brady

      I think where he goes may have a great impact on how well he plays. For example if he goes to Miami, I see him as struggling to succeed due to the fact that I see that team dissolving in couple years and becoming bad again. If he goes to the Cubs I think he will be a good average player. Maybe not the biggest superstar but somebody you want on your squad. I just think he needs a team that is building for the longterm and looking at the contracts Miami handed out this year, its obviously not them.

  • JustSwain

    A lot of the speculation that I hear on this sight focuses on trying to figure out what Cespedes wants from a new ball club. There is an awful lot of conjecture that goes into that, and I thought it might be interesting to look at things in a different light. Lets not consider what Cespedes wants in a club, lets assume he is as baseball savvy as each and every blog reader on this sight. Personal team affiliations aside; If you were in Cespedes shoes, which team would you rather play for; The Cubs or Marlins?

    My vote: Cubs. Why? The Marlins are poised in a position to collapse so that the 2015 Marlins are likely to look like the 2011 Cubs. Consider: Big contract to a middle infielder who plays average defense. Shifting Ramirez over to third means Hanly will be in about the same place in 2015 as Aramis was this year. The Buhrle signing seems like they paid too much and got too little. Reyes, Buhrle, Bell, this team seems like it is built to mortgage the future to impact big and fill seats in its new stadium. The Cubs look like they are attempting to shed contracts that are holding them back while quietly adding the pieces to allow them to compete when Cespedes is likely to hit his prime.

    I’d love to hear how others feel about this.

    • Brady

      I keep telling myself that I need to read all the comments before replying, but I just cant resist the urge to reply to some things. I essentially said this in a reply just north of your comment. Essentially I completely agree. Also if Cespedes wants to be a star, he probably isn’t doing that on that star studded roster and when they collapse it will look poorly on him for being there. Seems like the waste of a potentially good career.

  • Garrett

    Here are my 2 cents for what it’s worth: Cespedes is a phenomenal athlete, has scary opposite field power that excites the crap out of me, is 26 years old and we shouldn’t question that or the idea of him using PED’s, he was on the Cuba national team and they test for those much heavier than the MLB. I just see no reason not to try and snag an extraordinary talent, I agree it’s a risk but heck every player is a risk. We have money to spend and this makes sense to gamble on, along with Soler as well of course.

    • Brady

      Second, and it isnt Cuba that is notorious for false ages and names. That is the DR so I dont think there is reason to fear.

      • Pat

        I’m not so sure. I’m pretty sure the consensus was that Jose Contreras was several years older than reported.

  • cubsin

    Sometime in the next two weeks or so, “Larry” Bud will finally decide the Theo compensation issue, with a settlement with the Padres soon to follow. I’m still hoping for something quick and rational.

    Sometime in the next two weeks or so, Cespedes will sign with a major league team. I’m hoping it’s with the Cubs, but if we lose on him, we’ll have more dollars available to bid on Soler. I’m suprised he’s still waiting for residency in the Dominican Republic, but the timing worked out well. Soler can sign anytime through the end of June and still avoid the new cap on bonuses for foreign players.

  • Deez

    I’m w/ Ozzie on this one. This guy has only competed at a level comparable to High A Ball & teams are throwing up to $50M over 6yrs at this dude!?

    • Brady

      He has faced only “High A”, however I don’t think that means he won’t be able to keep up with MLB pitching. Take his outings in the WBC for example. He crushed the hell out of it. Also even though he was rusty coming into the Venezuelan league, he did crush a 96 mph fastball and that isn’t something every High A level player can do. I trust the scouts and I trust Cespedes to have the eyes that are required. Also he supposedly plays stellar defense which in and of itself should be worth 1 WAR (equivalent to $5mil a year) so his defense already pays half of his salary. If he comes to the Cubs and just becomes a solid defender in the outfield with a little pop every now and then I will be more than happy with the deal. At least we took the risk before the CBA comes into effect.

  • Tsb

    Felix Pie;can’t miss prospect…

  • SirCub

    What an ominous ellipses…

  • yield51

    “They compare him with (Raul) Mondesi. I think Mondesi was better than him.” Ozzie Guiilen

    Mondesi 23 – 27 year old, yes please.
    Mondesi 28 – 34 year old, no thank you.

    If those comparisons are anything close to accurate the “young” Mondesi would be a steal at 7 to 9 Million per year. If the team is signing the “old” Mondesi, I think people will be very disappointed.

    Seeing how Cespedes is already 26, and demands on starting in the bigs (prima donna), I say pass. I honestly think that if that comparison is even close to being accurate, he is over-hyped, and will be overpaid. Couple all this with an extreme culture change (esp. Chicago), and it looks even worse. I would want the Cubs players at around 6/30, but anything higher, I would see as an overpay.

    I do have all the faith in the world in the new FO, so if they go get him I will become a believer.

  • Quintz

    Considering his age and the higher than usual “flop” possibility because of his lack of playing against other high end talent, I think this cat should be looking at nothing more than money. I know we constantly criticize guys for taking more money with lousy teams, but I would completely understand making this nothing more than a bidding war if I was in his (or his agents) shoes.

    I may have inadvertently just made a case for him to go to the Cubs (what with the lousiness they will probably posses), in all reality I’m kinda hoping they don’t pay him. There is something refreshing about looking at the organizational chart and seeing only two contracts that make me nauseous, not that he would be one for sure, just like the direction the Cubs are going money wise….after I say this, I realize Cespedes will probably be ROY next year with someone other than Cubs.

    http://www.mlbdailydish.com/2012/1/26/2739047/chicago-cubs-roster-complete-organizational-chart

  • Tracyy Lusk

    Don’t forget that Florida does not have state income tax. This becomes huge when millions are involved.

  • Ben Peoria Cubs Fan

    Illinois has a 5% state income tax. On a 6 yr 45million contract it is 375k per year. If cubs offer 5 million more over 6 years the net is still 7.125 mill versus 6.66 mill annually.

  • Mike F

    I think the whole situation is patently absurd. He is not a can’t miss prospect, he can miss. And he’s old by any standard for a prospect. While Brett is great, I don’t agree on the conclusion that it’s a Miami done thing. I don’t think it is, it appears in several places, something about his visit isn’t quite sitting right with Miami. And that scares me and should scare anyone. It’s not just age, it’s not just body type, it’s not just that inside out swing, it’s not just fear of the curve ball, it’s not just experience….. it’s a lot of thing including Katz and the whole damn reminder of Sammy Berry Berry Good Sosa. I think the money would be a hell of a lot better spend with Garza or saved. Further, I’m much more interested in the younger flavor.

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