Yoenis Cespedes AP

Yoenis Cespedes playing winter ball for some reason

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Yoenis Cespedes has a bit of mystery about him.  Gaudy numbers from Cuba. Far more limited footage and scouting of him freely available than of most hot properties. In spite of that — or perhaps because of it — he’s set to become a free agent and get himself a contract in the $50-60 million range or perhaps more. At the moment his stock could not be higher.

So will someone please explain to me why he decided to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic?

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the talented and sought-after Cuban defector, has joined Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League. He played Thursday in a round-robin playoff game. Cespedes went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and was hit by a pitch in the 6-4 loss to the Gigantes del Cibao.

I can’t see what he has to gain by playing. Given the investment they will have just made, the team that signs him will have no choice but to have tons of patience if he’s a bit rusty upon hitting spring training.  And by playing now, before signing, he risks (a) injury; or (b) losing some luster by virtue of poor play or, more likely, some bit of scouting intelligence that reveals a heretofore overlooked flaw in his game.

Maybe he’s just bored. But if I were his agent I would have told him to do nothing but work out, eat smart and peruse real estate listings until his contract is done.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.