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White Sox may be serious bidders for Yoenis Cespedes

Dec 31, 2011, 7:18 PM EDT

yoenis cespedes getty Getty Images

Between this winter’s trades of closer Sergio Santos and outfielder Carlos Quentin, the White Sox have cut about $10 million in payroll. Could they be gearing up for something (or someone) special?

Perhaps. Maybe. Potentially.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago expects the White Sox to take part in the bidding for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is scheduled to become a major league free agent sometime in early January.

White Sox GM Kenny Williams did not shoot down that idea when speaking with reporters Saturday:

“What I will say is there are some doors that are now open for us that were not open yesterday because of the savings of dollars,” Williams said. “But which direction we are heading with that, [talking about it] I think would be counterproductive with us getting something done should we decide to go down that road.”

The White Sox are likely to have competition from the Cubs, Marlins, Yankees and Red Sox, but they have a good history with recruiting Cuban talent and would seem to have some available spending cash.

Cespedes, 26, batted .333/.424/.667 with 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games this past year in Cuba.

  1. hammyofdoom - Dec 31, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    Man, the fact that this guy is 26 kind of scares me a little when it comes to a major league team going after him. I don’t know much about Cuban baseball leagues in comparison to MLB, but what if he needs seasoning in the minors? He’d come up as a 28 year old rookie, with not a whole lot of time to figure out the major league level. However I’m also as close to a scout as I am an astronaut in that I have seen both baseball and space on TV, so he might be a surefire thing, but it’s just a thought that keeps nagging me.

    • paperlions - Dec 31, 2011 at 9:43 PM

      Cuban profession baseball is equivalent in talent to A to high A minor league ball. So….yeah, a jump from that level straight to MLB may not be the smoothest. Consider all of the Japanese stars (a league considered to be roughly equivalent to AA ball) that have problems jumping to the majors.

  2. paul621 - Dec 31, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    And that assumes that 26 isn’t undershooting it at all…

  3. dondada10 - Dec 31, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    I wish I had a frame of reference as to what the Cuban league most resembles. AA? AAA? Chapman was the much safer signing, IMO.

    • phillyphreak - Dec 31, 2011 at 9:33 PM

      Not sure how much help this is but I think Keith Law said Cuban league pitching is ~ single A pitching…..

      • phillyphreak - Dec 31, 2011 at 9:34 PM

        Said = compared.

      • palehose56 - Jan 1, 2012 at 2:51 PM

        Honestly, how does Keith Law (or most anyone else) know? Has he spent time in Cuba?

        Alexei Ramirez made the transition from Cuban pitching to MLB pitching, pretty darn quickly. I think the talent is undervalued in Cuba because it’s so unknown. And yet Japanese talent is way overvalued…

      • cur68 - Jan 1, 2012 at 5:46 PM

        palehorse: just to bolster your argument remember, Yunel Escobar? Another Cuban defector. I can confirm, based on eyeball assessment, that he’s as good as his numbers suggest (over 5 season he’s BA .289, OBP .366, SLG .401, & OPS .766) : average to above average. Its not a given either way but there’s ample room to believe that Cespedes will transition as well.

  4. randygnyc - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Cuba’s elite players, like el duque and contreras have worked out well at the MLB level. I’m sure an offensive player will have an easier transition than a pitcher. Also, the language/cultural obstacle is minimal compared to their japaneese counterparts. This player might be the real deal. I expect 40-50 million over 6 years.

  5. tn16 - Jan 1, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    I could see the blue jays trying for him
    AA seams to think that a MLB team should have half the team as out fielders

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