Out of left field: Cespedes agrees to terms with A’s

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

After the Texas Rangers signed japanese phenon Yu Darvish last month, all eyes shifted to Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to make the next big overseas signing in professional baseball.

It seemed like the young outfielder’s decision wouldn’t be made until Spring Training rolled around and it appeared like the Miami Marlins had the bait to sway Cespedes to Florida. But in a surprising move, the Oakland Athletics shocked the baseball world by signing Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal Monday. For the entire offseason, the A’s looked as if they were going to settle into their ways of dumping young talent while trying to build a competitive roster with a very low payroll. This signing was the complete opposite of that, throwing the entire MLB a major curveball that not a lot of people saw coming.

I follow baseball rumors almost religiously. And of course, there was a lot about Cespedes. What didn’t make sense to me after I read about his deal this morning was that the Athletics were never in any sort of rumored discussion with Cespedes. However, I can’t be mad that Oakland came out as the victors of the bidding war for Cespedes. The Athletics have finally made a move that fans can get excited about, which should be a huge relief considering the squad traded Gio Gonzales, David Dejesus, Andrew Bailey and Trevor Cahill all in this offseason.

So what should the Athletics expect from Cespedes? Well, it’s really tough to tell right now, considering he has never played in the MLB. He has faced major-league pitching, though. Cespedes played for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic — where he hit .458 in six games as Cuba’s starting center fielder — and many scouts believe he will be ready for opening day as a starting outfielder. He could’ve offered those services for the Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox — each of which expressed interest in him — but it was the A’s who made deal and surprisingly actually outbid other teams.

Oakland has to be happy with their commitment because Cespedes is jusy 26 years old and had already tied the Cuban League’s single-season home run record with 32 bombs. He can hit for power and he is quick. The A’s need both of those skills with no apparent power stick in their lineup. They had a little bit of power last year with Josh Willingham blasting 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. Behind those above-avergage numbers, catcher Kurt Suzuki was No. 2 in home runs for the A’s at 14 and Hideki Matsui provided 12. So any player that can provide some home run spark for the fans will be an obvious upgrade.

If all works out for the A’s, Cespedes will offer just that. Only time will tell if Cuba can produce major-league ready talent. Cuba has given us players like Kendry Morales and Yunel Escobar, but that’s about it. Hopefully, Cespedes will be the biggest star to ever come from the country. I know I’ll be rooting for him in yellow and green.

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