Aside from the big names out on the free agent market this winter, it was a pretty thin free agent class. Even if they might have been rumored to be in on guys like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, the Cubs didn’t really appear to make much of a push for anyone that might require a huge investment.
But big one name that is expected to hit the free agent market soon could be a guy that the Cubs will actually make a serious run at: Yoennis Cespedes.
If you haven’t heard his name by now, Cespedes is the latest Cuban sensation to grab the attention of Major League Baseball, not long after Aroldis Chapman took a similar route to getting to the bigs.
Cespedes defected, but had to establish residency in the Dominican Republic before he could petition Major League Baseball to become a free agent. He’s expected to gain that residency within the next couple of days, meaning he could be available very soon.
The Cubs, according to reports, are one of several teams that are expected to be in the running for the 26-year-old outfielder. They are one of six teams listed that also includes the Marlins, White Sox, Tigers, Orioles, and the Indians.
The Cubs front office likes Cespedes a ton. How could you not? He has 30-30 potential and plays sound defense, with one heck of an arm. His makeup has drawn comparisons to that of Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones.
Cespedes is considered Major League-ready by most, and would likely need at least a year to get completely acclimated to the game. The Cubs have that year and would be willing to be patient for the season or two it would take for Cespedes to reach his prime.
There isn’t any reason the price tag should cause them to shy away, either. Initial figures had him asking six years and something in the neighborhood of $60 million. That number has dropped dramatically recently, with Cespedes likely to take something more similar to a four-year contract to that of Chapman, with a dollar amount around $8 million a year.
As it stands right now, the Marlins have to be considered the favorite to land the Cuban outfielder. They have the money to spend, and given the population in Miami, and Ozzie Guillen, he’d be extremely marketable. They’ve made no secret of their intention to pursue Cespedes once he does hit the open market.
Even with the Marlins making as strong of a push as they’re expected to, I’d expect the Cubs to be heavy players in trying to sign Cespedes. He would be a fantastic addition and could be a centerpiece of this Cubs team for a number of years.