Let the bidding begin: Yoenis Cespedes is finally a free agent

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After months of reports about Yoenis Cespedes being on the verge of free agency MLB has finally announced that the 26-year-old outfielder who defected from Cuba last summer is cleared to negotiate with teams.

Cespedes established residency in the Dominican Republic and then surprised many people by participating in the Dominican winter league, but stopped playing following a rough 10-game stretch in which he hit .143.

Initially there was plenty of speculation about Cespedes getting as much as $50 million, but those rumors seem to have died down. However, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com “he’s expected to command a contract greater than” the $30.5 million deal Aroldis Chapman got from the Reds after defecting from Cuba in 2009.

Cespedes said previously that the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, and Indians have shown the most interest, but reports vary on whether he views playing in Miami as a positive or a negative.

As for what type of player Cespedes is capable of being, projections based off his Cuban numbers show a good but not great hitter with 25-homer power and poor strike-zone control.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.