According to a report from Eric Reynoso of Cafe Fuerte, a Spanish language news website that covers Cuba and Miami, the Miami Marlins have made an offer to Yoenis Cespedes after meeting with him face-to-face this week. Reynoso relayed information from a source who said the offer was for around $40 million over six years. That would put his annual salary close to $6.67 million. For comparison, Delmon Young, now in his last year before free agency, recently received a $6.75 million one-year contract from the Detroit Tigers.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald later tweeted that the Marlins’ offer to Cespedes was actually for less than the previously quoted figure.
On Thursday evening, Cespedes returned to the Dominican Republic, where he finally established residence not long ago, after meeting with Miami. As far as we know, he did not meet with any other teams during his short stay in the United States. Reynoso’s source also said that Cespedes and his agent, Adam Katz, do not currently have plans to meet with any other teams.
While we still have no new information that connects him to the Tigers, today’s news gives us a fair idea of the likely price range that will be required to land the most highly coveted player left on the free agent market. Besides Miami, Detroit will have to compete with, most notably, the Chicago Cubs if they wish to add the athletic Cuban defector to their outfield. The Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago White Sox also are known to have some interest in Cespedes.
The Marlins, with a large Cuban population in the area and Emilio Bonifacio set to patrol center field at their new ballpark, would be a very logical destination for Cespedes. That said, $40 million seems like a very beatable number for other potential bidders. Estimates for the value of his potential contract have been as high as $60 million.
About two weeks ago, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports told us that Cespedes had “told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami.” This conflicts with the more recent quote from Cespedes, “Hopefully I can play for the Marlins.” It’s still unclear what he actually wants or what he might be saying to gain leverage with other teams.
It’s unclear how much the Tigers are willing to spend after handing a lucrative $214 million nine-year contract to Prince Fielder. Detroit already owes over $127 million to 18 players for 2012 according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts without factoring salaries owed to players not yet eligible for arbitration. They may have to shell out well beyond $40 million to sign Cespedes, as their location would probably not be as appealing and they would be unlikely to give him much time in center field, his natural position.
It should be noted as well that Cespedes can negotiate freely but cannot actually sign a deal with any major league club until the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control legally clears him.
How much do you think it will take to add him and do you think the Tigers should pull the trigger?