cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes signs with the Oakland Athletics

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We weren’t expecting this:  Tim Brown of Yahoo! reports that Yoenis Cespedes is on the verge of signing with the Oakland Athletics.  Susan Slusser added that the deal will be for four years, $36 million.

That’s a bit lower than anyone thought he’d get.  Is it possible that his short, lackluster stint in winter ball hurt him? Maybe it’s more possible that everyone calmed down a bit and realized that a 26 year-old — hopefully — Cuban player is not necessarily a sure thing no matter how flashy his workout videos and short-season statistics were. Especially if he’s a corner outfielder long-term and not a center fielder. Which looks very likely to be the case.

Still, it’s not like $36 million is cheap for the A’s, who have traded just about everyone who makes more money than Peter Brand.  But when you have no stud hitters in your system and no ability to sign one on the free agent market, you have to take a chance like this.  Because while he’s no sure thing, if Cespedes performs at the top end of his expectations, he will be a bargain.

In other news: how freaking interesting has the winter been for the AL West?

UPDATE:  Turns out that Cespedes will be eligible for free agency after the four year deal.  My initial impression was that the contract would run for four years and then he’d still be under team control and subject to arbitration for two additional years.  With that not being the case, this is a way better deal for Cespedes than I first assumed.

It also may explain why he went to the A’s and not some more of the usual suspects.  Rosenthal reports that Cespedes’ agent was trying to get either a ten-year deal out of teams — which no one was willing to do — or to get a four-year deal with free agency at the end.  Other teams, such as the Marlins, wanted him under control for five or six years.  The A’s, in short, were willing to do what no one else would.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.