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.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.