Though the calendar has nearly turned to January, a fair amount of talent remains on the market, particularly in the outfield. Depending on what methods you prefer when evaluating players, there's a strong case to be made that Cespedes is the best remaining player available.
Once Cespedes signs, it's possible the floodgates will open. Teams who missed out on him might be quick to snag Justin Upton or Alex Gordon. Clubs desperately in need of help in center may quickly opt to pick up Dexter Fowler or Denard Span.
That's the hope, at least. The same things were said about Jason Heyward, and the market remained silent after he signed.
At the same time, these players are starting to run out of time. The fact that it's so late in the offseason might actually force teams to take action once Cespedes is off the board.
We here at The Stew would like that to happen, and we're assuming most baseball fans agree. The offseason is more fun when players sign and breaking news alerts are issued.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the five best fits for Cespedes. Keep in mind that many of these teams listed should have interest in the other outfielders mentioned above, and could wind up signing one of those players once Cespedes is off the market.
Here we go:
NO. 5: BALTIMORE ORIOLES
The Orioles need to do something. Aside from signing Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim and dealing for Mark Trumbo, the team has been eerily silent on offense. After losing Chris Davis to free agency, the club needs to find a way to pick up some of those lost home runs. Trumbo certainly helps in that area, but he doesn't have anywhere near the same upside as Cespedes. He's a massive upgrade over L.J. Hoes, and helps Baltimore become a contender in a strange AL East.
NO. 4: NEW YORK METS
We already know this isn't going to happen. The team has been hinting at it for quite some time, and the recent signing of Alejandro De Aza basically confirmed that Cespedes would not be back. That's a shame, as he makes a ton of sense for his former club. Even now, Cespedes is a massive upgrade over the De Aza/Juan Lagares platoon the team will employ next season. On top of that, we know he can hit at Citi Field. Cespedes' ridiculous .287/.337/.604 slash line after joining the Mets was one of the big reasons the club made the playoffs. It's a shame the Mets don't have more money, because Cespedes' return would make them a much stronger contender heading into 2016.
NO. 3: LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The Angels are currently set to open the season with Todd Cunningham in left field. That alone is enough evidence that they need to be heavily involved in the bidding for Cespedes. Over the past couple seasons, the Angels offense has been Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Pujols isn't getting any better or younger, so finding Trout a new partner should probably be one of the team's main goals. Trout is on an unprecedented start to his career, and it would be a shame to see the Angels waste his historic numbers. Kole Calhoun has shown some flashes at the plate, but he's not good enough to be the second best hitter on a contender. Cespedes certainly is, and if you combine those three with an aging, but still productive, Pujols, there's a chance at a decent offense. The Angels have had some success with this stars and scrubs approach in the past, so why not add another star to the mix?
NO. 2: CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Trades for both Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier indicate the White Sox are going to try and compete in 2016. While the team has certainly improved this offseason, there are still two spots on offense where they could use help. One of those spots is in right field, where Avisail Garcia hasn't panned out as expected. Though there's an argument to be made that Garcia is still young, and could improve, a team hoping to contend for a division title probably shouldn't be giving him 550 plate appearances next season. That's where Cespedes steps in. He is not only a massive upgrade over Garcia in left field, but he instantly makes the White Sox a legitimate contender in 2016. The team's offense, which was one of the worst in the league last season, would feature Jose Abreu, Cespedes and Todd Frazier in crucial spots. On top of that, Cespedes could play center field when Adam Eaton needs some time off. Eaton's aggressive play style occasionally leads to bumps and bruises, so having a legitimate backup makes a lot of sense.
[Elsewhere: Here are our favorite home runs of the 2015 season]
NO. 1: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
It's going to be an even year, so we know the Giants need to put themselves in a position to win another World Series. They've already made some progress on that front, signing both Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. While their rotation is greatly improved, the team still has one glaring weakness: Corner outfield. Cespedes is a huge upgrade over Jarrett Parker, and is one of the few free agents available whose power wouldn't be impacted by AT&T Park. The park depresses power quite a bit, but Cespedes has enough raw pop to compensate for the change. On top of that, Cespedes could play center in San Francisco, pushing Angel Pagan to a corner spot. The defensive metrics weren't kind to Pagan last season, and it's possible Cespedes would be a decent upgrade defensively out in center. He improves the Giants in a number of ways.
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