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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.