For those of you that don’t know Yoenis Céspedes is a former Cuban professional baseball player that defected to the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2011. It is expected that he will be declared a free agent for MLB within the next couple weeks, and with his talent there will be quite a few teams interested in signing him.
At 26 years old the right-handed outfielder is deemed to be a 5-tool player and has put up some pretty amazing numbers professionally in Cuba and in international play. He has been playing professionally in Cuba since the end of the 2003-2004 season when he was 19 years old. This last season Céspedes batted .333/.424/.667 with 89 runs, 33 home runs and 99 RBI in 90 games. He led the league in runs, tied for the home run lead (breaking the former league record by one), tied for the most total bases (236), tied for 7th in steals (11 in 14 tries), led in RBI, and finished 5th in slugging.
For a more in-depth look at his career stats and bio you can visit Baseball Reference
How good is Yoenis Céspedes?
I doubt that anyone will really know for sure until he gets at least one full MLB season under his belt. At this point in time he has proven himself to be a gifted athlete that is one of the best in Cuba at a very young age. Unfortunately the baseball in Cuba is not the same quality or the same game and a player’s skill cannot be translated equally across to MLB.
Below is some of the praise that he has received from those that know more about how to judge baseball skill than myself.
One NL Int. Scouting Director, courtesy of Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider
“Runs very well; a power runner, but does have quick-twitch actions. I think he can play some center until he’s 30-32. Tremendous hand and wrist strength produces big bat speed and 30-homer power. Physically, he has everything, including a 60 arm; he does get pull happy at times and gets overly aggressive on the bases and with his throws from the outfield. He’s performed satisfactorily in international play against better competition, but those with three pitches give him trouble. The best attribute is a work ethic and baseball acumen that should allow him to continue to develop as he’s challenged in the states.”
“There may be a year or so where he has to play catch-up, but he’ll be an asset from the first day he arrives. He reminds many of a young Sammy Sosa, and some have mentioned Bo Jackson in terms of swing and bat speed. He’ll need to make the adjustment to the good offspeed stuff — most of the No. 1s in Cuba fit as No. 3s or 4s in MLB and lack a quality second pitch. If he can hit .270 and make enough contact on the way, he’s an all-star.”
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus called Céspedes “arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation.”
Could the Mariners use Yoenis Céspedes?
At this point in time, the Mariners could use any talent at the plate that they can get their hands on. They could find a spot for him in left field, but at what cost and risk?
Does it make sense for the Mariners to make a strong bid for Yoenis Céspedes?
The quotes above in this article paint a picture of a future all star on any team, but the stories and comparables are commonly meant to show a best case scenario when the player is put into circumstances that fit their main attributes. One of the main selling points Céspedes has to offer is his power. Aggressive, right handed, pull happy players that depend upon their power tend to be taken down a notch by Safeco Field. Adrian Beltre is prime example of what can happen to a quality right-handed pull hitter in Safeco. You put Beltre in LA, Boston or Texas and he could be a perennial All-Star, but Seattle is a rough place for his bat since he doesn’t quite have Mike Stanton or Miguel Cabrera type power. Assuming that Céspedes receives around the $30mil he is asking for. I believe it would be a much riskier move for the Mariners to take on a player that would likely turn out to be an above average at best, and likely just average. The Mariners also already have two question marks in Casper Wells and Mike Carp that are ready to play left field this season.