Here’s a development that could have a significant impact on the offseason plans for several teams.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was told by a source that it could take two months before Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will be declared a free agent by MLB.
Cespedes, 26, defected to the Dominican Republic this past summer. His advisor Edgar Mercedes told Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus earlier this week that they were hoping to have his paperwork wrapped up before the end of the month and that he was confident Cespedes would be in spring training with an MLB team. Cespedes’ agent is Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group.
Cespedes was already visited by a large contingent from the Marlins front office this week and is expected to have several more private workouts for interested teams in the coming days and weeks. The early buzz is that he could land a deal rivaling the $30.25 million contract Aroldis Chapman signed with the Reds in January of 2010.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.