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.”
(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….)