A closer look at A’s signing of Yoenis Cespedes

The A’s stole the spotlight Monday with news that they’ve agreed to terms with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on a four-year $36 million contract. With that, the A’s have grabbed the top hitter on the international free agent market. Cespedes, 26, still must pass a physical (figure that won’t happen for at least a week) and he needs to obtain a worker’s visa to play baseball in the United States. But assuming the contract gets finalized, his arrival will bring a jolt of excitement to the A’s, regardless of whether Manny Ramirez joins him or not …

The reason A’s fans should be thrilled: Cespedes is a physical specimen with terrific tools. At 6 feet, 215 pounds, he’s built like a running back and is said to have terrific power and speed to go with a strong arm, which could play well in center or right field. If you haven’t seen this promotional video yet, check it out. It’s an odd, and at times, hilarious production, but it also offers a glimpse of Cespedes’ raw ability. Baseball America’s Jim Callis says Cespedes would have ranked somewhere in the No. 7-15 range of the list of the major leagues’ top prospects, so the A’s have landed a premium guy. Perhaps they finally have a young, impact middle-of-the-order bat.

The reason for A’s fans to be skeptical: There’s still no way of telling how Cespedes’ talent translates to the major league level. He not only will be making a huge jump in competition level, he’ll be adapting to a new country and new culture as well. I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk he’s in the opening night lineup. Perhaps he gets a bit of minor league time to adjust. That will depend on how he looks in spring training. And as one scout told me this afternoon, if Cespedes is ready to contribute right away, will he have the lineup protection to thrive? “They did a good job outbidding other clubs and getting a hell of prospect,” the scout said. “But there’s so many questions in the middle of that lineup.”

Bottom line, this is an example that the A’s are breaking away from the “Moneyball” mentality. They’re now going after the blue-chip, can’t-miss physical talents who blow you away with their bench press and sprint times. And the A’s are throwing big money at these players to land them.

Joe Stiglich

  • Stan

    Exactly Joe. And who here has been calling Beane a liar? I’m proved right,again. Now they have a hitter..and no all star pitching. Its just a paradox of trading your best pitchers at the time when there is least demand for them-the off season- while saying your broke..and now Crisp is paid a fortune with this Kid getting paid like he’s Ruthian,when in fact he could be a Wally Pip. Who knows? Beane is gambling now?..it makes no sense,none of it.

  • Stan

    Chris Townsend is beating to death “This is a trade for the future” How many times have we heard that? Every year Beane finds a media puppet or two to print that or say that. With Beane,its always the future. Geo was the future wasnt he? He became the past before he made the future!

  • Stan

    And Beane’s moves this off season are classic bi-polar. Give aways followed by oversignings. Classic. He can hide it from you,but I see it…

  • I truly believe that this was just Beane’s chance to pickup a player he believes to be a future superstar that he is getting at a bargain compared to other players of his caliber. I know he hasn’t proven anything against Major League arms, but I do think this is a gamble. He opened up payroll by dealing pitching because I think he feels that it doesn’t matter who is in our rotation because everyone we bring in seems to get the job done. The only seasons we have had success are ones where we have a power bat in the middle of our order. In 2006 we had Haren but aside from that, our rotation was less than stellar. We did have Thomas and Swisher hitting in the middle of the order putting up big-time numbers. Basically what I’m getting at is that Beane feels that Cespedes is worth more than we are paying him and we will be able to trade his contract in a couple years if need be. As an A’s fan I have learned to just have faith and it is always exciting when a player nobody knows about could potentially come in and become a star in our uniform. Before this move, I was not looking forward to A’s baseball in 2012. Now we have Cespedes and Manny to watch. No risk, no rewards in this game whether you believe in Moneyball or not.