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A’s in the Mix for Yoenis Cespedes

November 7, 2011


Yoenis Cespedes is a Cuban defector and in baseball this is always an exciting development as the baseball crazy nation has yielded a good number of highly talented players. Peter Gammons of wrote about interest in Cespedes this morning saying,

“The Marlins are flying to the Dominican [where Cespedes has taken up residence] with owner Jeffrey Loria, club president David Samson, general manager Larry Beinfest, special assistant Tony Perez and manager Ozzie Guillen.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has had a scout with Cespedes. The Yankees have made it clear that they are interested. So have the Red Sox, whom one source said are “sending everyone” to the Dominican. Toronto will be in. Texas, too. Several small-market teams have let [Cespedes’ agent Adam] Katz know they will be in, including Pittsburgh, Oakland and Cleveland.”

The A’s have been active in the international free-agent market as they should be. This perhaps is a “newish” Moneyball – an undervalued resource. Granted with teams like the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox involved that notion may be pure nonsense but, this is where the A’s can compete and take risks and get guys in their prime and potentially afford it. This is why I wholly advocate the A’s signing Cespedes, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – who exactly is this guy?

First off most people know him from his sort of crazy scouting video which was taken down but is now back up here, but here is what an article by Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald had to say about him,

“Hace tiempo que el nombre de Céspedes ha despertado mucho interés entre la comunidad de representantes especializados en el béisbol cubano, sobre todo desde que fuera elegido como jardinero central en el cuadro estelar del Segundo Clásico Mundial de Béisbol y estableciera una marca de más jonrones en una temporada:33 en la Serie Nacional 50.

De por vida en el béisbol cubano y siempre con el equipo Granma, Céspedes terminó con promedio .312, con 212 cuadrangulares, 1.051 imparables y 693 impulsadas.”

Rough translation: “For a long time the name of Céspedes has raised much interest among the community of agents specializing in Cuban baseball, especially since he was selected as a center fielder in the second WBC and established a record for most homers in a season: 33 in the Cuban National Series.

He has spent his career, in the Cuban baseball league and always with the Granmas, he finished with .312 average with 212 homers, 1,051 hits and 693 RBIs.”

Of Cespedes, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said,

“He’s a tremendous talent—arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation. He’s a legitimate centerfielder with plus power and speed and is in his prime. Much like Aroldis Chapman was the best pitcher from the island, Cespedes is the best position player, and [his Dominican trainer Edgar] Mercedes will be expecting (and likely getting) a Chapman-like deal in the neighborhood of $30 million.”

This kid is the real deal and would be an exciting addition to the A’s. They need to make this happen. It is hard to find stats for Cuban players and good scouting reports, but here are his numbers from the World Baseball Classic (obviously they suffer from a severe case of small sample size): 11-for-24 (.458) with a 1.480 OPS, he managed six extra base hits (one double, three triples, two home runs) and had a .480 OBP. Not too shabby.

The A’s need to go out and get international free-agents. They can be controlled for six years and with hitters in particular that means they can’t choose to leave the unfriendly confines of the Coliseum. The A’s don’t have the money to compete for the best players, but they can compete for the best prospects.

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