Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

(The first in a set of two related, but distinct posts about Cuban prospects Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.)

Last week, 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is permitted to negotiate with MLB teams from his residence in the Dominican Republic, travelled to the U.S. to meet with the Marlins in Miami. Although he cannot execute a contract until he gets his work visa from the United States’ Treasury Department, Cespedes reportedly received an offer from the Marlins for about six years, and something less than $40 million.

There was momentary optimism that the small-ish offer could open the door for a team like the Chicago Cubs to swoop in and overwhelm Cespedes’ desire to play in Miami with bags full of money.

That optimism was … tempered last evening after a report out of Miami from Joe Frisaro:

The Marlins position as frontrunner for Yeonis Cespedes appears to be getting stronger.

Miami is exchanging contract numbers with the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder.

And on Sunday, two National League sources believe the Cubs are not seriously in the mix for Cespedes.

That would be something of a surprise after months of flirtation, including the Cubs taking Cespedes to dinner multiple times in the DR, and being called (by Cespedes) his “most aggressive suitor.” Was Cespedes just trying to up the Marlins’ offer?

If the report is true, and the Cubs are out of the race for Cespedes, it may not be about the Cubs going cheap.

For one thing, I have it on very good authority that the Cubs were willing to spend big on Cespedes. It’s entirely possible that, in the last week, they’ve gotten a clearer sense of just how much Cespedes prefers to go to Miami, and the money it would take to sway him exceeds the Cubs’ reasonable valuation of the outfielder.

For another thing, Frisaro says the Marlins are offering just $30 to $35 million to Cespedes over six years. The Cubs – among many other teams – would probably be willing and able to top that number if it were only about the money.

Ultimately, the Marlins have long been the favorite for Cespedes (confusing comments from Ozzie Guillen notwithstanding), for reasons wholly unreplicable by the Cubs. Further, sources have been saying for weeks that Cespedes to the Marlins was simply a matter of time. If he goes there, even if on a “small” contract, it’s going to be hard to be upset at the Cubs, because we’ll never know if they really had a chance.

(And, yes, I know that the Jorge Soler piece of that article is, perhaps, even bigger news – it’s coming in the previously-alluded-to second post.)

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