Nationals Reportedly in on Yoenis Cespedes (UPDATES: Getting Serious)

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Nationals Reportedly in on Yoenis Cespedes (UPDATES: Getting Serious)

Chicago Cubs

washington nationals logoThe outfield market has begun to shore itself up of late. All of Jason Heyward, Denard Span and Alex Gordon have come off the board. And, more recently, Chris Davis got the big payday he was holding out for in Baltimore, while Justin Upton got a sizable amount from the Tigers. Still, there are at least two impactful outfield free agents to be had  – Dexter Fowler and Yoenis Cespedes – that remain unclaimed.

I checked in on the former, about one week ago (wondering whether the small deals accepted by Gerado Parra and Denard Span could imply a short term deal in the near future), but we haven’t heard too much on the latter, until now.

In an article for Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Washington Nationals are pursuing Yoenis Cespedes and may have already proposed an offer.

An offer, Rosenthal hears, that is less than the 6 years and $132 million Justin Upton received from the Tigers, but is expected to be significant, nonetheless. Indeed, Rosenthal is hearing that the Nationals offer is greater than the three-year deals offered by both the White Sox and the Mets (both of which could be landing spots for Fowler should they miss on Cespedes).

After bidding $200 million for Jason Heyward and reportedly taking a run at Upton, as well, it’s clear that the Nationals have been trying to improve in the outfield throughout the offseason. If you recall, the Nationals recently acquired Ben Revere from the Blue Jays, presumably to play center field, but were reportedly still in on Upton after the trade.

All of that is to say, I don’t suspect Revere to be a roadblock to the Nats signing another outfielder. In fact, with Jason Werth in left field and Bryce Harper in right field, Cespedes – and his ability to play center – might make more sense than Upton ever did.

I can see why the Mets and White Sox are trying to lure Cespedes to New York and Chicago, but a three-year deal isn’t going to cut it. Last season, Cespedes’ fourth and best year in MLB, was nothing short of spectacular. Although he was clearly not the NL MVP, the fact that arguments were being made in his favor should tell you a lot. He finished the season with a .291/.328/.542 slash line, 35 home runs and 6.7 WAR. Cespedes, 30, is still relatively young and is a positive on defense, as well (at least in the corners). He’s got a lot to offer, and someone will probably give it to him, but could it be the Nationals?

Well, in short, yes.

The Nationals actually make a good deal of sense. We already know they are looking to improve in the outfield, having just missed on Justin Upton, and that they have the money to spend, having offered $200 million to Jason Heyward. Both Upton and Heyward are a good deal younger than Cespedes, but that might not stop them from offering plenty of money, just at fewer years. There are plenty of moving pieces, but if the Nationals do acquire Cespedes, I wouldn’t expect a trade of anyone else. Instead, it’s more likely that Revere shifts back into the reserve role – a role that probably suits him better – and Michael Taylor continues his development at AAA.

How this impacts the market for Dexter Fowler remains to be seen. Parra and Span, who feel like somewhat comparable players, received just three years and roughly $9M/$10M per year for their services. It was those deals that forced us to start thinking differently on Fowler. Despite lofty contract projections, perhaps about $9M-$10M/year is the best he could do in this oversaturated, late-offseason market, particularly considering that he – unlike Parra and Span – is tied to draft pick compensation. However, Chris Davis and Justin Upton have arguably repositioned the going rate for outfielders at a much higher mark, and Yoenis Cespedes might do the same. If Cespedes does end up in Washington, I’d look to the Mets and White Sox as favorites for Fowler on a two or three-year deal (which he hopefully signs in plenty of time to net the Cubs a draft pick).

Setting aside the Fowler implications, Cespedes to the Nationals obviously improves yet another contender in the already top-heavy National League.

UPDATE: Brett here, just throwing out a few additional bits:

Kinda sounds like the stuff you hear right before word of a deal breaks. I think this is probably really going to happen.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami