Marlins primed to bid for Cespedes
Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes is on the verge of becoming a free agent, and the Marlins are expected to make a strong push for the 26-year-old outfielder.
Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic, which had kept him in a holding pattern for months. Now, the outfielder is awaiting approval from Major League Baseball to be declared a free agent.
Recently, Cespedes said the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Indians had expressed the most interest.
The Marlins are on record saying they believe Cespedes’ best fit is in Miami, with its strong Cuban community.
The Marlins are prepared to make a substantial offer — between four and six years — for the power-hitting outfielder.
There is a feeling within the organization that another impact bat is needed to reach the postseason, and Cespedes is a five-tool player.
The Marlins also feel Cespedes can handle center field, but some wonder if that is his best position. Because of his size, he may profile more as a corner outfielder. But he has the speed to play all three positions.
In recent weeks, Cespedes got some game experience while playing with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League. He showed glimpses of his power, but he’s also rusty.
If he signs with Miami, he certainly would get a strong look in Spring Training, but chances are he would open the season at either Triple-A New Orleans or Double-A Jacksonville.
Emilio Bonifacio would then be the frontrunner to start in center field.
What would it mean for the rest of the Miami roster if Cespedes signs? Logan Morrison is slated for left field, and Mike Stanton is an anchor in right.
The way the Marlins are looking at it is, you can’t have enough elite talent.
The team fell apart last year, in part, because of injuries and lack of depth.
When Spring Training gets underway, the Marlins right now will be monitoring several players who are returning from surgeries. Morrison had his right knee scoped in November, and Chris Coghlan (another outfield candidate) had his left knee scoped in the same month. Both should be ready for Spring Training, but they likely will be eased into action.
Hanley Ramirez is coming off left shoulder surgery. The expectation is for Ramirez to be ready for Opening Day, so his playing time will likely be reduced in Grapefruit League games.
If Ramirez has any setbacks, Bonifacio may wind up at third base in the short term.
Even shortstop will be watched closely.
Jose Reyes has had hamstring issues in the past. Should he need a breather, Bonifacio or Ramirez could see some time at shortstop.
Say everyone is healthy, and Cespedes wins the center field job for Opening Day, Bonifacio then could go back to being a super utility player.
The bottom line is the Marlins feel they would be a more rounded and deeper team with Cespedes.
— Joe Frisaro