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.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

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The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”