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Yoenis Cespedes playing winter ball for some reason

Jan 13, 2012, 9:02 AM EDT

Yoenis Cespedes AP AP

Yoenis Cespedes has a bit of mystery about him.  Gaudy numbers from Cuba. Far more limited footage and scouting of him freely available than of most hot properties. In spite of that — or perhaps because of it — he’s set to become a free agent and get himself a contract in the $50-60 million range or perhaps more. At the moment his stock could not be higher.

So will someone please explain to me why he decided to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic?

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the talented and sought-after Cuban defector, has joined Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League. He played Thursday in a round-robin playoff game. Cespedes went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and was hit by a pitch in the 6-4 loss to the Gigantes del Cibao.

I can’t see what he has to gain by playing. Given the investment they will have just made, the team that signs him will have no choice but to have tons of patience if he’s a bit rusty upon hitting spring training.  And by playing now, before signing, he risks (a) injury; or (b) losing some luster by virtue of poor play or, more likely, some bit of scouting intelligence that reveals a heretofore overlooked flaw in his game.

Maybe he’s just bored. But if I were his agent I would have told him to do nothing but work out, eat smart and peruse real estate listings until his contract is done.

  1. kvanhorn87 - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Part of residency requirement that Dominican republic set to help draw for winter league games?

  2. crashdog - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    The only risk here is of injury. MLB GM’s have become enamored with handing out multi-million dollar contracts to guys who have never played in the Majors. So, if he goes 0-for-winterball, someone will still pay him. Meanwhile, the second best position player in free agency still doesn’t have a job. Laughable

    • paperlions - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Not really. When you are asking for far more years and far more money than you have demonstrated you are worth, it is difficult to reach a deal. Boras has always been patient, usually it pays off….sometimes, the market dries up. I don’t think the market for Fielder was ever as large as the hype made it out to be. He is a good hitter, but not as good as people act like he is…and he isn’t good at anything else….nor does he have the body or apparent work ethic to make GMs confident that he’ll stay in good enough shape into his mid-30s.

      Cespedes will be getting < $10M year…there is simply no comparison between his talents and what he is asking and Fielder's situation.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Maybe Prince Fielder should play some Winter ball….

    • dan1111 - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Huh? What is stupid about giving Cespedes a big contract? Lots of players have become big stars despite the fact that, at some point in their careers, they had no major league experience. The only reason U.S. prospects don’t get big money is the draft system, which artificially lowers their price by removing competition.

      And I don’t know what Fielder’s lack of a contract is supposed to prove. Lots of teams want him; he is just holding out for more money.

  3. Matt Adams - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Wouldn’t it be weird if he just liked to play baseball?

    • bdickey33 - Jan 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      I would like this comment 1000x if you could. Cmon people it is a game.

      • paperlions - Jan 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        Baseball is a game….MLB is big business

  4. randygnyc - Jan 13, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    And if he hits like Ruth? I’m quite certain given the obvious downside to playing before signing, his agents have gotten indications that interested teams aren’t willing to pay the estimated 5/50. Perhaps with an opportunity to showcase his skills, whilst accessible to all teams, he’ll outperform expectations. This all makes sense utilizing the premise his agents expect lower offers.

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