Marlins Make Offer to Cespedes

Just three days after Yoenis Cespedes toured their new ballpark, the Miami Marlins have reportedly offered the 26-year-old outfielder a contract.

The contract is allegedly for six years, but the financial details are shaky at this time. While the initial report suggested the deal was worth $40 million, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald is hearing the Marlins offered less money. Unless the Marlins have offered significantly less than $40 million, Cespedes’ contract will likely break the record for Cuban-born players. That slot is currently held by Aroldis Chapman, who received a six year, $30.25 million contract from the Cincinnati Reds.

Signing Cespedes would be a huge gain for the Marlins, who currently lack a true center fielder on their roster. The Chris Coghlan experiment was a disaster last season, causing the Marlins to turn to Emilio Bonifacio. While Bonifacio experienced a breakout season, much of his success was a result for a .372 BABIP, which was the second highest BABIP among qualified hitters last season. His defense has been acceptable in the outfield over his career, but he posted a -2.6 UZR in center this past season.

We don’t know what kind of defense Cespedes will play in center, but we have already taken our best guess at what his bat will produce. Jack Moore noted that Cespedes was probably less of a risk than other Cuban-born players, and Clay Davenport projected Cespedes’ stats based on his performance in the Cuban league. Based on Davenport’s research, Cespedes should hit .260/.325/.457 in the majors. Those numbers would put him in line with the average center fielder, who hit .261/.325/.406 this past season. What sets Cespedes apart from the typical center fielder is his power potential. Few center fielders are capable of hitting 20+ home runs each season. Even if Cespedes is a slightly below-average defender, his bat should make him the best option to play center on the Marlins.

While Cespedes is likely the Marlins’ best option in center, it’s unclear how soon he’ll be able to make an impact in the majors. At 26, he’s much older than the typical prospect, but he’ll likely need time to adjust in the minors before he’s ready to take on major league pitchers. Cespedes will already have to adjust to numerous lifestyle changes once he begins his professional career in the US, which, I would imagine, can be very stressful. If the Marlins promote Cespedes before he’s ready and he struggles, that’s one more thing Cespedes will have to worry about.

Still, Cespedes’ potential makes him an intriguing candidate for most major league teams. The Marlins, in particular, are in need of a center fielder, and Cespedes looks like an ideal fit for them. Even if he’s not with the team initially, he’ll definitely make an impact at some point this season. The race for the NL crown should be tight this season, and signing Cespedes strengthens the Marlins’ chances to contend for the division.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


37 Responses to “Marlins Make Offer to Cespedes”

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  1. Kyle says:

    Is Chris Coughlan Dead? He is only a year from being productive

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  2. Yirmiyahu says:

    Paying $40M for a projected league-average centerfielder?

    But MLB centerfielders actually hit just .735 OPS last year (and .731 OPS the year before), which is well below Cespedes’ .782 OPS Davenport projection. However, I’ve also heard that he’s more of an every day right-fielder, with the ability to fill-in in CF. Obviously, teams are going to have their own projections and defensive evaluations. But I still don’t understand paying $40M for a guy who is basically still a prospect.

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    • It’s not like it’s $40 million for one year… If he’s a league-average center fielder, he’s worth 15 wins over the life of a six-year contract. That’s worth $60-70 million.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        .260/.325/.457, is capable of filling in in CF, but is a better fit for RF. Sounds like Cody Ross to me. With more power, that sounds like Vernon Wells.

        Would you give a $40M/6 contract to either of those guys?

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      • Niger Lover says:

        Ross is 31. Wells is 33.

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      • KKSC says:

        You know the market sets value, not WAR projections, right?

        $60 million/6 year contract = $10 million a year…

        How many full-time CF’s made that last year? 1.

        I doubt a league average CF is worth $10 million..

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      • KKSC says:

        Actually, two, I forgot about Rios..

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      • ValueArb says:

        The number of CFs making $10m is a product of timing. Soon the NL West will have 2 on its own, maybe 3. You can’t argue that league average CFs are less valuable than league average players at other positions because of a fluke of timing. What CFs are paid depends on how good they are, but also how much control their team as left or whether they were free agents.

        The real question is how much risk it is to sign Cespedes for $40m. It doesn’t seem like a great deal, only $6m a year to potentially address a big team need, and only through his age 32 year, far from a crippling contract. He only has to be a mediocre MLB starter to justify it, and if only average will create a good deal of surplus value ( and if above average huge value).

        Of course the fact the risk is only moderate doesn’t make it a smart deal. It all comes down to their ost to improve at CF via other means vs. the likelihood that he’ll bust or breakout. His projections don’t leave much margin for error and he’s too old to expect improvement from.

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    • Nick says:

      That’s just the projection for the first year. If you sign him, you’re betting that he’s going to improve into on that.

      And in response to other comments, there’s no market comparison to be had, because guys like Cespedes don’t hit the market. Yeah, Ross and Wells, but those guys have almost no upside and are way older. If a young player with upside was a free agent now, he could probably get 6/40 or more.

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      • Ronin says:

        The way I look at it is: How much would you pay for a 26 year old guy coming out of High A or even AA who might be ok in CF defensively but might have to slide to a corner? Seriously if this guy was born in America he might be a rule 5 type player.

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      • NEPP says:

        If he was born in the States, he’d likely be in his 4th or 5th year in the Majors. Its not his fault that he was blocked by living in Cuba.

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  3. Bryan says:

    Better than Corey Patterson I suppose….

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  4. Bryan says:

    Heck, I bet the Russian submarine plays better D than Patterson.

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  5. will h says:

    Risky. Did you see the (sss) first time he played outside of cuban leagues? Most say he isn’t really a CF, tons fail against MLB after being Cuban stars, yet he’s going to bank $40? Seems like too many question marks to me for that kind of outlay. The only reason it makes sense, really, is that he might draw Cuban fans to the new park… if he can play well enough to make the team as a full-timer, that is.

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  6. Phantom Stranger says:

    Much of the scuttlebutt is that very few in MLB think Cespedes can stick in center. How many bodies like his do you see playing centerfield everyday in MLB?

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  7. exxrox says:

    Vernon Wells (the good version) without the gold glove defense could be a reasonable talent comparison, if everything breaks right.

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  8. Justin says:

    He basically has the ceiling of mike Cameron without the defense. How is this worth 40 mil?

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  9. Antonio Bananas says:

    How are we talking about “ceiling”? At 26, he’s pretty darn close to his ceiling. If he is A) actually 26 and B) not taking PEDs. I’ve read that the competition level he faced is comparable to high A to AA. If you’re 26 and you are mashing high A and AA, you aren’t much of a prospect. If you’re 26, you’re pretty close to your ceiling. Not only all that, but his “mashing” was also during a year when a lot of people mashed. He set a Cuban record for home runs. Several other players were close to his total with one guy having a better rate but he got hurt I believe.

    I don’t think Cespedes is anything special at all and probably not going to be worth the contract. It’s not dollars/WAR because each team is different. I doubt he’ll add the wins that make the Marlins more money. I doubt he’ll play well enough in comparison to other outfielders to justify whatever his pay is.

    I honestly doubt he’ll be anything more than a “lol remember how everyone thought Cespedes was awesome and turned out he wasn’t? trivia question.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      should be “why” are we talking about ceiling. Obviously, the “how” is “via fangraphs”

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      • Simon says:

        Because it isn’t really clear how he’ll turn out in MLB because of his unusual background, and “ceiling” is being used as short-hand for best case scenario. Obviously, people know that in a purely physical sense he’s near or at his peak, although he could improve in other ways – learning to deal with higher quality off-peak pitching, for example.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Even if he is a top 5 centerfielder or league average the first year, my money is on a sharp decline. If the Fish get him, they’ll be in a pretty horrible position in 2-3 years when Reyes, Buehrle, Bell, and Cespedes are all oft injured or a shell of themselves in their prime and taking up a huge amount of payroll in a stadium that is no longer filled with an owner who has a history of not wanting to spend if the money isn’t there first.

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      • Ronin says:

        You’re crazy, there is no way Reyes ever gets hurt again. He is the 2nd best signing of the off season!

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      • Jake R. says:

        What makes you think Loria plans on still owning the Marlins 2-3 years from now?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Good point Jake. If I were Loria, I’d sell the team after this year if they make the playoffs. Team value is likely going to be at an all time high (probably already is). Be a great sell high move.

        Although wouldn’t that still support my point? A team being sold generally creates a bad feeling, especially in this case when it’d obviously be for money. Unless he sells them to Mark Cuban, I don’t see it being a good thing.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Antonio, if you know that the team value would be at an all-time high before falling back to earth, don’t you think prospective owners would realize this as well?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Maybe, or you could get an owner who thinks “how, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and that Cuban guy everyone is talking about, WOW I can win a world series!!!” I mean, if Mitch Williams is any representation of the general perons’ perception, that wouldn’t be too far off.

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  10. Corey says:

    Where would he hit in the Marlin’s lineup 5th or 6th?

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  11. chinocochino says:

    From a cultural standpoint, Florida would be a great fit due to the high cuban population, not to mention the large hispanic population in Miami and the rest of the state.

    He seems a little too risky for me with not enough upside. The only successful position imports that I can think of right now are Alexi Ramirez and…sure there are more.

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  12. Nick says:

    Why is everyone letting Cespedes get into the way of a perfectly good discussion about Russian submarines?

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  13. Simon says:

    It’s a bit stupid comparing him to a 25 year old player who is still in A or AA ball. The US-based player could have been promoted on several occasions, but wasn’t, implying a lack of talent and potential. Cespedes had no possible promotions – if Barry Bonds had been born in Cuba, he would have been stuck playing at the same level as Cespedes. It wouldn’t make him an A-ball standard player. [No, I’m not comparing Cespedes to Bonds in any way.]

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