Billy Beane collects outfielders, apparently.
The Athletics put an end to the Yoenis Cespedes intrigue Monday, signing the Cuban free-agent to a four-year, $36 million deal (hat tip to Yahoo's Tim Brown, who broke the news). He's a center fielder by trade, though the presence of Coco Crisp in Oakland could push Cespedes to one of the corner spots.
Where will the A's stash all of their outfielders? In addition to Crisp and Cespedes, the club also has Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes and Seth Smith on the roster. Prospects Collin Cowgill, Chris Carter and Michael Taylor have to be factored in as well. Oakland's also been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Manny Ramirez, as silly as that sounds.
Projecting Cespedes is the ultimate fool's errand. We can't even be sure if the Cuban defector is really 26 years old. He clubbed a record 33 homers in the Cuban league last year (rocking a .333/.424/.667 slash over 90 games) and he was a star in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, batting .458 with two homers in six games. But Cespedes also hit .143 in a short appearance in the Dominican Winter League, striking out 10 times in 35 at-bats. Oakland's park won't do him any favors: it's collapsed right-hand power by nine percent over the last three years (it's murder on lefties; merely inconvenient for the righties).
The Athletics obviously didn't hand Cespedes $36 million to have him rot on the bench; he'll be in Oakland's lineup sooner or later. It's possible he might start the year in the minors if he has a slow camp, but I can't imagine he'd be there for long.
When the Yahoo! fantasy staff crunches the next set of outfield rankings, I'll probably have Cespedes in the mid-50s, around where I slotted Melky Cabrera. It's generally my nature to be cautious with international players. I'm expecting a neutral average, around 18-20 homers, maybe 10-12 steals.
Too high? Too low? Do you have secret reports coming in on Cespedes? Share your notes in the comments. Emilio Bonifacio sympathizers can also take a sigh of relief: with the Marlins missing out on Cespedes, Bonifacio still has a starting job to call his own.