The Sun Sentinal is reporting the Miami Marlins are favorites in the chase for Yoennis Cespedes, the recently-defected Cuban outfielder. Cespedes, who broke Cuba's home run record in the 2010-2011 season, profiles as a five-tool outfielder who could stick at center field and hit for decent power.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports is reporting sources think Cespedes could bring in a contract around what Aroldis Chapman got -- a deal that totals $30M committed dollars and a player option, but only costs $2M to $5M annually. The key differences between Chapman and Cespedes, however, may change the price tag a bit.
For instance, Chapman signed before he was even 22 -- still a developing star and an unknown commodity. There was a lingering chance he would only make it as a reliever -- where he seems stuck right now -- if he did not develop any additional pitches.
On the other hand, Cespedes turns 27 next October and probably would not spend much -- if any -- time in the minors, depending on the team's depth. If the Marlins acquired him, Cespedes would immediately become the team's best bet for opening day center fielder.
Also, the New York Yankees are reportedly interested in the right-hander -- likely boosting the contract talks to a pricier tier. As such, I would not be surprised to see Cespedes to get something like this:
2016: $9M (player option)
That comes out to $30M total, so throw in a signing bonus of $8M, plus or minus $3M, and it puts him in the upper $30M, lower $40M bracket. Of course, this is all contingent on the Yankees bidding the price up. If it comes down to Miami and some smaller market teams, then the Marlins could easily net Cespedes for a low $30M, high $20M contract.
But would El Talento be worth it? It's hard to say. Cuba, being closed off to American eyes in so many ways, is a difficult market to gauge. Some suggest it is home to the best baseball outside of America; others say it trails Japan, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic in competitiveness, which would put it somewhere between Triple-A and Double-A.
I am of the opinion that Cespedes would be able to easily meet the demands of a low $40M contract. At most, Cespedes would be earning close to $10M annually. That's worth two wins on the free agent market, according to FanGraphs' WAR calculations. Last year, Nick Markakis, Coco Crisp, and Torii Hunter were worth between 2.0 and 2.5 win -- and none of them had really great years.
Interestingly, they each earned highly disparate amounts of income: Markakis made over $10M, Crisp earned about $6M, and the shell of Torii Hunter made $18M. Nonetheless, these are not difficult seasons to reproduce for Yoennis, assuming he can stay healthy -- which doesn't seem impossible given how fit appears in this video Kevin Goldstein unearthed and then wrote a treatise about:
Yes, Marlins fans, this beast man could be playing alongside Mike Stanton next year. And if that indeed comes to fruition, suddenly, these Marlins are looking very exciting.
NOTE: There seems to be major confusion on whether his name is Yoenis or Yoennis, with two Ns. Let's double our pleasure and just go with two.