UPDATE: That was fast. Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press was told by Cespedes’ representative, Edgar Mercedes, that not only has the Cuban outfielder established residency in the Dominican Republic, he has also officially been granted free agency by MLB. In fact, Cespedes stopped playing in the Dominican Winter League playoffs at the urging of MLB teams.
We haven’t heard any clarification from MLB on the matter, so it’s possible Mercedes may have jumped the gun, but it’s safe to say things are about to heat up.
6:26 PM: While the Prince Fielder sweepstakes has finally reached a resolution, the bidding for Yoenis Cespedes is just about to begin.
Cespedes’ representative, Edgar Mercedes, told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that the Cuban outfielder has finally established residency in the Dominican Republic. He is now waiting on approval from MLB to become a free agent.
Cespedes recently told Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press that the Cubs, Marlins, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Indians have shown the most interest in him. However, it’s possible the Tigers will be less willing to pony up after agreeing to a nine-year, $214 million contract with Fielder earlier today. Still, most expect the 26-year-old outfielder will end up with a contract richer than the $30.25 million deal Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman signed with the Reds two years ago.
Cespedes, 26, recently went 5-for-35 (.143) with one home run and a 10/0 K/BB ratio during a stint with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League playoffs. While it’s unlikely the poor performance will have a significant impact on his asking price, it wouldn’t be surprising if he needs some seasoning in the minor leagues.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.