A’s could strike gold with Yoenis Cespedes


The A’s finally pulled off their big international signing.

Oakland wanted Aroldis Chapman two years ago, but came up short when the Reds bid $30 million for six years. Last winter, they were willing to commit $36 million to bring Hisashi Iwakuma over from Japan, but since $19.1 million of that was in the form of a posting fee, it wasn’t enough to land the right-hander.

Now that $36 million has been spent, given to Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as part of a four-year deal. It was a surprising contract, in that it provides the 26-year-old Cespedes with the right to become a free agent after four years. Still, it’s a worthy gamble for a team with very little to lose.

This was really the only way the A’s were going to hit a home run. Elite free agents were out of their price range, and while the A’s haven’t been any good in years, they also haven’t been so bad as to land a top-five draft pick (maybe that will finally change next year). So, they took a chance.

I think best-case scenario has Cespedes performing like a $15 million-per-year player for the next four years. Oakland is a tough place to hit, but Cespedes could prove to be a .290, 25-homer guy anyway. The worst-case scenario is that he has big problems adjusting to life in the U.S. and proves completely worthless. That’s a possibility. Strictly from a talent standpoint, I don’t expect Cespedes to wash out. Maybe he turns out to be nothing more than a .260 hitter with 15-20 homer power, but it would come with plus defense in left or right field, making him something close to an average regular.

The big negative here is that even is that the A’s have limited their upside by allowing Cespedes to become a free agent after four years. Cespedes will likely open 2012 in the minors and he’ll probably need some time to get accustomed after he does arrive, so I wouldn’t expect him to be much of an asset until 2013. He’ll then be able to walk away after 2015.

The A’s, though, needed to do something like this. As much payroll as they had shed, they actually might have gotten themselves in trouble with the MLBPA if they didn’t (remember that the union had a hand in forcing the Marlins to increase their payroll two years ago). Ideally, they’ll open a new stadium in San Jose in 2015 with Cespedes as their showcase player. And if it doesn’t work out, well, it’s $9 million that Billy Beane won’t be able to spend on Marlon Byrd and Matt Capps next winter.

Major League Baseball finds insufficient evidence to discipline Miguel Sano for sexual assualt

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In late December Betsy Bissen, a photographer for the Minnesota Twins website, Twins Daily, alleged that Miguel Sano assaulted her a few years ago. Bissen offered a detailed account of the incident.

In the account she said that in 2015 Sano was at an autograph signing at a store at which she volunteered. After the signing, she alleged that Sano grabbed her wrist and forced her to accompany him to a nearby store, attempted to force her through a doorway near the restrooms, tried to kiss her multiple times and continued to hold her, forcibly and painfully, by her wrist, in an effort to get her into the bathroom with him. She said the struggle lasted for 10 minutes, and her screams for help went unanswered.

Major League Baseball announced that it was investigating the matter. A few moments ago, it announced its findings and that it was declining to discipline Sano:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball has completed its investigation into an assault allegation made against Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano. The comprehensive investigation included interviews of more than 20 individuals, including Sano and the complainant, as well as a review of available documents, including communication records.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the Office of the Commissioner found that there was insufficient evidence to support a disciplinary determination against Sano, due to conflicting and inconsistent witness accounts and the absence of contemporaneous substantiation. Barring the receipt of any new information or evidence, the Office of the Commissioner will not impose discipline on Sano in connection with the alleged incident.

Based on the text of the statement, one may conclude that the league did not find Bissen’s claims to be credible.

This is first investigation of this type, or pursuant to its domestic violence policy under the umbrella of which this investigation presumably falls, which has not resulted in discipline of some kind. At least investigations of which the public was aware.