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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.