In a move that came almost literally out of nowhere, the A’s have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and will sign him for four years and $36 million dollars.
I’m shocked by this move. SHOCKED! If you’ve been following the baseball offseason in a general sense, it’s unlikely that this would be the first time you’ve heard the name Yoenis Cespedes. He’s been like the hottest date at the prom for baseball this winter.
A 26 year-old Cuban defector that just established residency in the Dominican Republic, Cespedes was unable to sign with a major league team until very recently, but his name has been all over the rumor mill. The reason I haven’t mentioned him before is because I thought there was basically a ZERO percent chance that the A’s would sign him.
Oakland was mentioned to be interested in him back in November but were said to be out because of Cespedes’ hefty price tag and the fact that at age 26, he’d be a better fit for a club trying to win now; the A’s are clearly building towards the future. In fact, they were reportedly much more interested in a younger Cuban outfielder named Jorge Soler. At age 19 and with all the upside in the world, he seemed a much better fit. But that’s all a moot point today.
Now before we get into what this signing means in big picture for the A’s, let’s talk scouting reports.
Cespedes is a bit of an enigma. Besides a ridiculous scouting video that he sent out to MLB teams himself, scouts really haven’t seen that much of him. Some teams have shown more interest than others and I’m sure they did their due diligence, but anyone who says they know what they’re getting out of Cespedes is flat out lying.
There is little denying his tool set though. Cespedes has decent speed and a decent arm but his power potential is impressive. Some scouts have it at a 70 on the 20-80 scale, meaning you can expect him to hit 30 homeruns annually in his prime. However, his defense and ability to make contact are subject to much debate. For the purposes of this article, I am going to assume the best.
Cespedes has the chance to be an impact outfielder both offensively and defensively. He’s an elite athlete and probably could play CF but will most likely move to RF with the A’s. Some think he might need a little seasoning in AAA but the A’s will give him every chance to earn an outfield spot out of spring training. He’ll also likely be the A’s best hitter whenever he gets to the big leagues (though I realize that’s not saying much.)
Now, on to the bigger picture. I think this means two things for the A’s.
The first is less likely and probably less important as well, but I don’t think the A’s will be nearly as bad as most seem to expect. I thought this before today, and today’s signing only reaffirms that theory. I’ll get into this more later on, but our pitching is still impressive and our offense is better than advertised.
The second, and more important thing we can take away from this signing is that it means this latest rebuild really is about youth and building towards the future. It gets frustrating to see the A’s rebuild every third year our so; no one realizes that more than me. But many fans take it as the A’s just don’t want to spend their money and that the only objective is to pinch pennies. This signing should change that way of thinking; for the right deal, the A’s are willing to shell out the dough. Cespedes is about to enter his prime and could be a centerpiece for a young A’s revival. The reason Oakland didn’t extend Josh Willingham, by comparison, is because he’s on the wrong side of 30 and by not signing him the A’s get two draft picks, further adding to the young core.
There is a method to the madness, I promise.
And lastly, if you really wanted to read between the lines: why would the A’s commit almost $40 million to ANYBODY this offseason if they didn’t know San Jose wasn’t just around the corner? Just a little food for thought.
About the Author
Written by Josh Muller
My name is Josh Muller. I was born and raised in Oakland, California and currently live in San Francisco. I watch sports religiously and organize my calender year to coincide with baseball season. I'm a diehard A's and Warriors fan, love talking sports all day and believe that the words "Opening Day" are the two greatest in the English language.