Marlins “expected to make strong push” for Yoenis Cespedes

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Now that Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic his long-awaited free agency should be right around the corner and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins “are expected to make a strong push” for the Cuban defector.

They’ll have plenty of competition, although Cespedes’ poor showing in the Dominican winter league may have exposed some sizable flaws in the 26-year-old outfielder’s game. He went 5-for-35 (.143) with 10 strikeouts and zero walks before calling it quits.

Cespedes said previously that the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, and Indians were the six teams showing the most interest and Frisaro believes Miami’s “strong Cuban community” could help the Marlins’ case. That and a huge contract, of course.

UPDATE: Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com contradicts Frisaro, reporting that Cespedes “has told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami.”

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.