Yoenis Cespedes is in America. I repeat, Yoenis Cespedes is in America. That is sentence that many executives from around the baseball industry have been waiting to hear for the entire off-season. Ever since Cespedes defected from Cuba, over a dozen teams have been salivating at the chance of the signing the best prospect to come out of Cuba in a generation. The Chicago Cubs were one of those teams. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, and VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod all traveled to the Dominican Republic in November to have first-hand contact with Cespedes and his representatives. Cespedes was not a free agent at the time, so that refrained the Cubs from having any type of contract negotiations with the Cuba prospect.
But with Cespedes now being recognized as an official Major League Baseball free agent, teams are now allowed to negotiate with the Cuba outfielder. However, there are still one hurdle to go before Cespedes can officially sign with a Major League team. Nonetheless, Cespedes is beginning to visit with the teams that are interested in him. Cespedes received his worker’s visa on Tuesday and flew into Miami Tuesday afternoon in preparation for his meeting with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Cespedes’ meeting with the Marlins may be his first and last meeting that he has before he signs.
There have been reports, unconfirmed I should add, that Cespedes may be reluctant to play for the Marlins because of their Miami location. Common sense would suggest otherwise, and as the case, common sense prevails. As it turns out, Cespedes and the Marlins do have mutual interest. Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Senitnel reports that the Marlins are the favorites to sign Cespedes, and the story includes a quote from the Cuban outfielder.
“It would be good [to play here],” said Cespedes, who spoke briefly with half a dozen media members and signed autographs before exiting the international arrivals lobby. “There are a lot of Cubans and they would support me a lot. Hopefully I can play for the Marlins.” Chicago Tribune
Cubs’ fans don’t be confused, you should be disappointed with this news. The Cubs have already been seen as the other front-runner for Cespedes to go along with the Marlins. Up to this point, the belief was that the Miami media was over-hyping the idea of Cespedes signing with the Marlins. With that in mind, many reporters started to suggest that the Cubs would be the team to sign Cespedes. However, with Cespedes being hopeful of playing for the Marlins in 2012, that figures to lessen the Cubs’ chances of signing the Cuban prospect.
If there is a silver lining for Cubs’ fans, it could be that Cespedes said “hopefully” before saying he wants to play with the Marlins in 2012. That would suggest that there still is time for the Cubs’ to convince Cespedes to sign with them. Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts convinced Epstein to join the Cubs’ front office; now it is time for Epstein to put his persuasion skills to test in his pursuit of Cespedes. The only way Epstein may be to convince Cespedes is through his pocket. Hence, the recent reports that have been suggesting that the Cubs and Marlins will go into a bidding war for Cespedes. But if Cespedes truly has his heart set on playing with the Marlins, then there may be nothing the Epstein can do. As they say, if it’s meant to be then it is meant to be.