(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.)

  • Serio

    SO what do you see Soler getting

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Soler article coming soon.

    • cls

      Couldn’t wait for the Soler article, could you? :)

  • CubFan Paul

    whatever deal lands Cespedes has to beat Chapman’s $16.25M Guaranteed signing bonus so there’s still a puncher’s chance that Miami can’t compete with, say a Cubs’ offer of a $20M signing bonus on a 5-6yr/$30M-$50M deal

  • OlderStyle

    Meh, sounds like he wants to seek a more familiar situation. Can’t say I blame him, the changes of leaving his country, family and friends is shock enough without throwing Chicago winters and the Cubs pressure cooker into the mix.
    Cubs FO: let it go, don’t throw crazy money at him, please.

    • CubFan Paul

      that’s why you offer him more money. welcome to free agency. I still lean Cubs, on him signing. Miami and Cespedes are trading number$ now, and if his agent doesn’t like what he sees, he’s going to advise Cespedes to let Chicago come back to the table/offer more money ..the Cubs will go down swinging after they make Miami sweeten their offer for sure

      • OlderStyle

        In my view, free agent type money should be spent on known quantities=lesser risk. Cespedes getting that kind of money doesn’t seem justifiable considering his age and lack of MLB experience. If we would have to drastically overbid Miami to overcome cultural differences, I would say let them have him. The money can be better spent, imo.

        • CubFan Paul

          what kind of money is free agent money thats too much for you? Aroldis Chapman got 6yrs/$14M and a guaranteed $16.25M signing bonus (paid out over *11years*). this is the deal Cespedes and his agent, Katz want to eclipse. If Miami can’t do it, someone else will.

          • OlderStyle

            I’m a bit reluctant to compare a position player to a pitcher but Chapman’s deal was pretty team-friendly for the Reds, in delayed payments, not an assumption for Cespedes. It’s the goal of every agent to outdo previous contracts and get the absolute most for the player, so Katz’s motivation is a given. Chapman was 22 at signing of contract so they had time for him to develop. He was also a lefty power pitcher with a high 90’s/low 100’s fastball to bank on. It’s reported that he has a plus slider but control issues and a lack of a 3rd pitch to make transition to starter. (The Reds to date, have gotten 63 innings of relief from him.) So, at the very least the Reds have a very expensive but effective reliever (because of fastball) with the continued hope he develops into dominant starter.
            Chapman: 22-time to develop, team-friendly deal, bankable fastball so at least they get the quality reliever innings, young enough to trade if no promise as starter.
            Cespedes: 26-no time for development, can’t assume team friendly deal, only defense is bankable, reports are 6yr/60 type contract (maybe more to pry away from Marlins?), can he hit MLB pitching?, too old to trade if he doesn’t pan out. He should be viewed as prospect but will get guaranteed MLB contract and free agent $=poor risk in my view.

            • CubFan Paul

              in your view.

              • OlderStyle

                does it need a qualifier? does your opinion need qualifying? I thought this was a baseball blog for fans?

        • Jim L.

          “Known quantities=lesser risk”, yet that didn’t stop Hendry from throwing crazy money at Soriano when everyone knew that he would not be worth the money he was making by the second half of the contract. And yes, we can throw in Theo’s signing of Carl Crawford too, just so the Theo haters here don’t spazz out.

          I think the money would be better spent on Soler but if Theo & Co think Cespedes is worth the money, who are we to say it’s not?

          • OlderStyle

            I’m just some shmoe fan with a 2 cent opinion.

    • Andrew

      he wouldnt spend winter in chicago hed be in the DR just like Castro and a lot of other players live during the winter.

      • OlderStyle

        yeah, probably, but he’d still be in Chicago in April.

  • ChicagOdie

    Chicago cannot offer the Latino atmosphere any player from the DR, Venezuela, or Cuba would find in Miami. That said, if that’s the only logical reason why they’d consider themselves out of the race, I’d still like to see them make an offer where he actually has to turn down the dough. I think that would be easier said than done. We’re not talking about Iowa City (no offense Iowan’s). Chicago is the 3rd largest market in the country.

  • rbreeze

    Agreed OlderStyle.  Lets get Soler and add him to our mix in the minors.  Soler is young enough where we can mold him into a major leaguer in the CUBS WAY!!!

    • OlderStyle

      Soler is more interesting to me, although I don’t know much about him. Cespedes seems like a poor risk considering his age, he would need to come in and produce almost immediately to justify a contract and is that a reasonable expectation for a guy who’s never seen MLB pitching?

  • ferrets_bueller

    If we give Soler 30 million, do we have enough to offer Cespedes 40? I realize that its spead over 5-6 years, but would the FO want to commit that much now? If there’s a choice between the two, I’d rather have Soler. Hell, i’d rather offer him cedpedes type money.

  • Chaz

    I still feel the cubs are in strong on both Cespedes and Soler. Some reports are out that we aren’t in on Cespedes because we are focused more on Soler. They don’t think we could get both. I believe the cubs are seriously wanting both and will still make it happen

  • NL_Cubs

    @ rbreeze…Couldn’t agree more. Soler is the “Cubs Way” to go.  Hopefully this Cespedes non-sense will be put to bed soon.  The Cubs don’t need to make a big, high profile splash right now, particularly for an unproven player at the MLB level who is 26 (maybe older) and not as easy to influence as would be a younger player.  Why saddle the team for several years with a 5-6 year expensive contract now.

    Go younger, develop the farm and the Cubs Way. Once the Cubs have established the foundation of good, young players deep and throughout the organization, then the high profile, high dollar splash in the FA pool will make a helluva lot more sense. Be patient my fellow Cubs fans.

    • Chaz

      Because it is NOT an expensive contract and has a very good chance of giving surplus value.
      I think at worst he gives a 1.5-2 WAR. In this case it wouldn’t be a horrible contract, nothing great but ~8-9 mill a year will not cripple up. At best he puts up a 4-5 WAR per year and far exceeds his contract. IMO signing him should be a no brainer. A lot of people are saying we should only sign Soler but you have to realize that Cespedes is what Soler COULD be, or he could be a bust.

      Why not get both if you can?

      • Andrew

        Cespedes is more athletic than Soler will be. Both could be good defensively for different reasons, Cespedes for his range, Soler for his arm. Soler’s ceiling is probably 40-50 homers (might be a stretch but that’s his CEILING), Cespedes’s is probably more like 30 homers and 20 steals (again possibly a stretch). They’re different players. I’m all for getting them both. I think Soler should get a very team friendly spread-out contract so we arent pigeonholed payroll wise in the near future for him, but im all for getting Cespedes 6-8mill a year for 6.

  • Falselife

    I know many others disagree, but I am very happy to hear this. Now, on to Soler – who I would be very pleased to obtain.

  • Deer

    Get ’em both, Cubs have the payroll flexibility now and in the future to make it happen.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      This is where I land. I see no reason for the Cubs not to pursue both.

  • Ajbearsfan

    So we probably won’t get him, who cares! I’m still thinking that he will turn out to be a He Sop Choi anyway! I hope we indeed sign Soler because he is younger and probably has more room for development than Cespedes will.

  • http://bleachernation.com Butch Cub

    Cubs are still on the hook for Soriano, may have decided to use the money on eating part of his contract instead of gambling on Cespedes ( though I would have liked him in cubbie blue). I say we continue to subtract unwanted pieces this year & and set up a good run on key pieces next year. And definitely try to add the younger SOLER!

  • cubmig

    Well, it sounds like Cespedes has his mind made up. My gut feeling was (and still is) that while money was an issue, the cultural ambiance of Miami would be influential and pivotal. Its not a done deal yet by any means, but the writing on the wall seems a bit clearer now. I wish Cespedes well and hope he hasn’t misread what Chicago has to offer. Chicago is as rich and diverse culturally as any city in the country——I’m sure he’ll realize the error of his ways when he stays and plays there.

    Now let’s move on.

  • gritsngravy

    Athletics Agree To Sign Yoenis Cespedes

    I think the cubs will get Soler.

    • Andrew

      wow i thought that was a joke when you posted it. kinda makes sense for Cespedes, hell be a FA at 30 and can possibly get another big-time contract, good for him making 9 mill a year.