Cespedes Establishes Residency in the Dominican … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs off-season has been very quiet of late but that could be changing soon.

The Cubs are expected to announce the non-roster invitees to Spring Training this week. The Cubs have signed several minor league free agents but have not officially announced a majority of those contracts that include non-roster invitations to big league camp. Plus, the Cubs have not cleared a roster space for Kerry Wood after announcing his new contract 10 days ago. The Cubs 40-man roster currently has 40 players on it with one contract pending.

The Cubs are expected to make a big run at both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler … and it appears the bidding between the Cubs and Marlins for Cespedes could begin soon.

Reports from the Dominican Republic early Tuesday indicated that Cespedes would not be playing again in the Dominican this season. The report suggested the team (The Aguilas) was not happy with his performance (.143/.167/.257, 5-for-35 with 10 strikeouts, a hit by pitch, one home run and no walks) but it appears that Cespedes was asked not to play any longer by MLB teams that are interested in signing him.

Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic, the first step in becoming eligible to be signed … and he may have already been granted free agency by the MLB front office.

Reminder alert … MLB.com is unveiling their list of the top 50 prospects in the game on the MLB Network (9:00pm CST) Wednesday night. The top 100 prospects in the game will be available on MLB.com soon after the telecast.

Here is the update … including more on Yoenis Cespedes.

Yoenis Cespedes
According to multiple reports Tuesday night, Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic and is waiting for approval from MLB to be declared a free agent.

Establishing residency was the first step in the process for Cespedes before he can sign a contract with a big league team. With this hurdle out of the way for his agent Adam Katz, the next step is for Cespedes to apply to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

In accordance with the new guidelines, Cuban players no longer have to wait three to six months to be unblocked by the U.S Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) after establishing residency outside of Cuba or the United States.

Prior to Jan. 28, 2011, any Cuban national who defected had to first establish residency, which could take months, and then apply to the OFAC for a license to be an unblocked individual. Until a player received the license, he was not free to sign. And an investigation by OFAC could take up to six months, meaning it could take six to nine months from defection to a free agency.

Now under the new rules, instead of having to request a specific license from OFAC for unblockage, there is a general license authorizing Major League teams to do business once permanent residency outside of Cuba (and not in the United States) was established, eliminating the requirement that the defector be processed by OFAC before they were declared free agents by Major League Baseball.

In short, establishing residency — not being unblocked — is the most important step for Cuban players like Cespedes trying to land jobs in the big leagues

Cespedes is currently training with Edgar Mercedes in the Dominican. Mercedes told Dionisio Soldevila that Cespedes is officially a free agent. Soldevila’s report is the only one as of this writing stating that Yoenis Cespedes has become a free agent.

Even with the questionable, at best, performance in the Dominican (.143/.167/.257, 5-for-35 with 10 strikeouts, a hit by pitch, one home run and no walks), Yoenis Cespedes is still in line for a nice pay day and many feel he will sign for more than Aroldis Chapman (six years, $30.25 million).

Video of Yoenis Cespedes in Cuba … Link found on Baseball America

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights:

  • Levine led off his chat by stating, “It’s all about the Cubans at this point for the Cubs. They are waiting for Cespedes and Soler to become Dominican citizens. When they do they are going after both.”
  • Levine thinks the Cubs will either sign Matt Garza to a long-term deal before Spring Training or he will be traded between now and July 31. Levine does not think the Cubs will go into 2013 with Garza under his current contract because just having one year of control will diminish his trade value.
  • Darwin Barney would be the ideal backup at short and second base for the Cubs.
  • Compensation for Theo Epstein should be a marginal prospect and cash according to Levine … the same the Cubs gave up for Andy MacPhail in 1994.
  • Yoenis Cespedes could need a month or two in the minors depending on how he performs in Spring Training … if he is signed by then.
  • The Braves have been interested in Marlon Byrd for the last 8-10 months. Levine has not been able to confirm if the Cubs could deal Byrd to Atlanta for a second baseman but he has heard Martin Prado could be available … again, he has not been able to confirm Prado’s availability or the Cubs possible interest in him.
  • Levine has been told that Theo Epstein did not want to trade Andrew Cashner.
  • The Cubs have the money to go after both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler … as well as sign both players. The Cubs main competition for Cespedes will be the Marlins.

News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs are one of the teams very interested in signing 18-year old southpaw Geraldo Concepcion.

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com named Brett Jackson the fifth best outfield prospect in the game. The Cubs have four position players ranked among the top at their position this off-season. Anthony Rizzo (1) and Dan Vogelbach (10) made the list for first basemen and Javier Baez (8) was mentioned among the best shortstop prospects in baseball. MLB.com is unveiling their list of the top 50 prospects in the game on the MLB Network (9:00pm CST) Wednesday night. The top 100 prospects in the game will be available on MLB.com soon after the telecast

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

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  • Agustinrexach

    Neil, for some reason I feel you would like The cubs to sign Cespedes. I’m I right or just crazy? Have a great day to all !

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Agustin, sorry for the delay … one of those days.

      I would not say I would like for the Cubs to sign Cespedes, kinda indifferent right now. The national guys I respect really like him, what I’ve seen is a player that is hopefully just rusty.

      • Agustinrexach

        No worries Neil I figured. Hope tomorrow goes smother. I asked about Cespedes because I would like the cubs to sign him 3-4 years. IMO People underestimate Cuban baseball. I think this guy will hit but thats just me. I once wrote a column about mighty mike fontenot and how good he was gonna be! Lol. See also Fukudome!
        At any rate I say he hits 25 HR and bats around .270
        Good night

        • SuzyS

          Augustin, just a few years ago I was promoting EY Jr and Snyder….so we all make our mistakes….even a certain CCO icon that passed a year ago last October was infatuated with Seth Smith (late of Colorado). So we’ll let your column about mighty mike fontenot go.
          Cespedes…if they sign him…I have no expectations  of any type of production…pro or con.
          “The forecast for tonight is dark….followed by dawn.”

          • Agustinrexach

            Yup Suzy…I remember EY jr., Snider and Jim’s enfatuation with Seth.(jury still out but I think Fonty turned out to be the better of those four, so I got ya there!)

            It is always great to hear from you my friend.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Agustin, sorry for the delay … one of those days.

      I would not say I would like for the Cubs to sign Cespedes, kinda indifferent right now. The national guys I respect really like him, what I’ve seen is a player that is hopefully just rusty.

  • 43hopping

    MGM Resorts odds to win the World Series:
    1. Tigers 4-1 (Fielder signing boosted them up)
    2. Angels 5-1
    3. Phillies 11-2
    4.CUBS 6-1

    Looks like Vegas has faith in Theo.

    • Tony_Hall

      Vegas has no faith in any team.  They follow the money, and every year many Cubs fans place bets on the Cubs to win the World Series, just so they can say they won the bet when it happens.  

      With Theo, there is bound to be more action on the Cubs.

      • 43hopping

        Tony you cost me $5. I did not pick you to be the first to respond.

        Oh and if you see someone with the name 43hopping it is a safe bet that they know something about gambling.

        • Tony_Hall

          Timing is everything, glad it cost you $5. Hope you do better on your other bets.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      go to vegas insider.com the cubs are currently 30-1 to win the world series phhhhhhh   pass the crack pipe please.

      • paulcatanese

        I can remember one year the odds were 100-1, that still is not a good bet, why waste a dollar?

  • Tony_Hall

    I have no doubt that the Cubs will try to sign all 3 Cubans. They are the last of the players, not in on the new CBA.  Sign them all if they can, as long as the contracts are spread out, there won’t be any issue on the dollars, as they will have the payroll to pay them and still keep their own players and sign free agents to fill in the holes.  But, if the Cespedes price gets to the levels, that rumors have stated, then they will walk away.  No one will know what they will be willing to go to, to sign them, and hopefully it will all work out in the next few weeks, before ST.  

  • cubs1967

    I would say Centipede is worth up to 38M in team Theo’s mind….after that all for the Marlins.
    This is their last chance to make a splash this off-season; and their ego is probably itching to do it; otherwise the off-season will be one of making a team worse; losing 100 games; not moving Sori, and it will all hinge on Rizzo as the only long term asset.(who if he IS adam laroche…….will be a bust depending on cashner’s future sucess…..and even worse if vogelbach becomes the better 1b, a JH draftee, then why did we trade cashner again?) mentality….
     
     

  • Coolpdxcubsfan

    I don’t hear anyone talking about his poor showing in the Dominican.
    .143 ?? 5 for 35 ?? Rumors that he can only hit straight fast balls??
    When he gets to the bigs with real pros that have awesome stuff, nasty cutters, splitters, sliders and change ups will he be worth 60 million or whatever?? And what about his age, everyone says that he is really much older. And what about possible juicing??
    I think it may be wiser to save the money and go all in on Soler and Concepcion.
    I really hope the Cubs staff has investigated this guy thoroughly.
    This seems like a risky investment to me.

    • Tony_Hall

      You need to keep reading…just because it’s not in this article’s comments, don’t mean they haven’t been discussed over the last week.

      You can be sure that they have investigated him thoroughly.

      All international signings are risky, but the reward could be worth more than the cost.  It’s a tough call for any front office.

      I would go after Soler and Concepcion the most, but would take a chance on Cespedes, but not to the ridiculous levels rumored. 

  • Anthony

    Byrd for Prado would be an OK deal and afford Byrd a shot at a ring, but ATL is on the fence on whether to put SS in the hands of rookie Pastornicky.

    BOS probably still wants to add an SP to counter the NYY moves, Tampa has a nice team, as does TOR, the AL east will be crazy as usual, and DET is stacked.

    Based on needs, I would say BOS/ATL, and to a lesser extent, DET are potential trade partners prior to ST.

    Players that are interesting returns:

    Heyward
    Teheran
    Pastornicky
    Middlebrooks
    Ranaudo
    Iglesias
    Brentz
    Bogaerts(must be in Garza deal)
    Turner
    Castellanos
    Smyly
    Porcello
    Oliver

    As far as the Centepede, well, Theo has had a Cuban presence, as does Wilken and Fleita, evidenced by BOS and ChiC pursuing Iglesias together back in 2008/09 scouting their JNT, and I suppose they feel the guy could be a contributor, so if they get him, they get him. There will probably be a few “young Sammy” moments flailing at sliders, but many do anyway as RHH.

    Maybe the Cubs will become the Chicago Cubans, who knows?

    If Soriano is not dealt before the season, bat him in the 4 hole and hope he rakes for a AL trade to a contender.

    The opening day lineup CANNOT be what everyone has posted, not at the current cost of attending a game,

    • Aaron

      Anthony, at least in my opinion, there’s not a single player you mentioned that the Cubs would get in return for Byrd….it just ain’t happening…think mid-level to low-level prospects. ALL of the guys you listed are ranked pretty high in their systems. Byrd likely wouldn’t even bring back a Top 20 prospect in anyone’s system based on his lack of production last year….and his age

      • Anthony

        aaron, the post started with Byrd/Prado

        the remaining players listed start with moving Garza and any other player in the Cubs system, every one of them, no untouchables

        • daverj

          Byrd is not nearly enough for Prado.  If Theo made that offer to Atlanta, all he would hear is a laugh, a click and a dial tone.

          • Zonk

            Indeed…I think Byrd is worth the $6 mil he is owed this year; not less, and not much more. 

            It’s all about salary relief, that’s all

            He’s only a fit for a club with a little extra cash and a short-term OF need

      • Ken Hurd

        Why would the Braves deal Prado, a guy statistically well above Byrd in every category, 6 years younger, under team control, AND pay more money for him???  Doesn’t make sense.  I’m sure the Braves inquired about Byrd and the Cubs asked for Prado, Wren laughed and said “how about for a bag of balls?”

    • Tony_Hall

      What does the price of a ticket have to do with the lineup?  Should they continue to sign, overpaid vets, to make more a name lineup?

      Haven’t you been beating it into our head that all the players are talented enough, they just need their opportunity.  

      Why the different message now? 

      • Anthony

        Tony, not NAME players, better players

        which over-priced Vets are on the list I provided?

        NONE

        Soriano, done
        Byrd, average
        DeJesus, average
        Stewart, poor track record, below-average

        The players on the list are just ones I like

        • Tony_Hall

          Not many of them are realistic to think they could become Cubs.  

          What’s wrong with giving some of our own guys opportunities and keeping Garza and Castro?  

          • Anthony

            They signed Stewart, versus giving some of our guys a chance at 3B.

            They signed DeJesus versus giving some of our guys a chance at OF

            I didn’t sign them. I would prefer to see what a Jackson, Ridling, Vitters, Ha, Lake, etc etc. on the big club would do, but they must not be ready according to Theo?

            They signed Sappelt, might as well play him also, pretty much sends a message to an Aducci, Wright, Nelson, etc etc., let Snyder walk.

            Now that these signees are our guys, they must be better than what we had originally?

          • Tony_Hall

            Vitters need to play at AAA first.  When he is ready, Stewart is moved.

            Brett Jackson will take Byrd’s spot, and Byrd will be traded.

            Ridling, Ha, Lake are all not ready, and when another OF prospect is ready, Soriano will already be gone, and Dejesus will move to LF or the bench.

            Aducci is another Sam Fuld/Tony Campana. 

            Sappelt is not guaranteed a spot on the 25 man roster and if he beats out the other guys, so be it.

            Just by adding people does it mean that the others are no good.  Competition is good for the players and the team as a whole.

          • daverj

            I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility that Stewart may turn into a productive player and force Vitters to LF.  It’s not a likely scenario, but not a long shot either.  A few years ago Stewart was one of the top prospects in MLB.  Sometimes it takes players a few more years to put things together.  Alex Gordon had a few major league season similar statistically to Stewart until he finally broke-out last season.    Stewart has one quality that most the Cubs major league roster does not have … big upside.

    • John_CC

      If the Braves were willing to swap Prado for the likes of Marlon Byrd it would have been done. 

      Marteen is young, versatile – can play 2B, 3B, LF – and is a patient hitter with decent OBP and low K rate. He fits the mold.

      Marlon is aging, plays a position that is getting log-jammed with young players coming up, is an impatient hack at the plate and been rumored as a player that the Cubs would like to trade. 

      This trade is a complete no-brainer.

      • Dorasaga

        I happen to own Prado on my primary fantasy team. Despite his struggle, I held on to him all the way through my championship series. I therefore watched his at-bats and a lot more Braves game than I should–I barely watched Cubs games starting late August; their players sucked and were overpriced, so there was no fantasy benefit to do so. Well, I owned Kimbrel and Hanson as well.

        In any event, Prado did not look like a patient hitter. I guess all Major League batters ARE patient hitters, compared to their counterparts in minor or foreign leagues. But compared to his Major League peers, Prado is not patient. He’s a contact hitter like Miguel Tejada, without the juice. He stretched out and fouled pitches out of the zone. He induced groundballs and double-plays. His advanced stats of “batted ball” represent a contact hitter with little patience (comparably to his predecessor, Tejada).

        Without considering his weak defensive skills*, Prado is the kind of hitter a team wants to “get lucky,” making contact and drive balls all over the place. Whether or not he’s along the New Direction of Thoyer, well, you can be your own judge.

        *I guess it was a no-brainer for the Braves to move him to left field instead of second base, where he looked ugly.

        • John_CC

          I too owned Prado on my championship fantasy team last year…I think I might have traded actually…I don’t even remember now.

          Anyway, I did not watch him play, so I will take you analysis to heart (and not draft him again this year).  I guess this is why it is very hard to make judgements of players based solely on the numbers.  My misguided analysis was based on his decent OBP and low K-rate. 

          • Dorasaga

            He’s “OK.” There are worse players out there. Like said, he’s not consistent. He’s not your “on-base” machine with plate discipline. He makes contact, though. If he could play shortstop, he could have gained a monstrous 6-year contract from the O’s like Tejada. (evil wink)

    • Tom U

      I don’t normally get involved in trade speculation, but this idea intrigued me, so I checked some things out.

      Prado is currently on a one year contract and is arb-eligible next year. He becomes a full-blown free agent in 2014.

      The Braves have some outfield prospects they are high on in Joe Terdoslavich, Todd Cunningham, and David Rohm, but they are not ready yet. They also have back-up outfielders Matt Diaz, Eric Hinske, and Jose Costanza signed through at least this season.

      So…

      If the Braves are in a “go for it now” mode, trading a potentially expensive player like Prado for Byrd and maybe Blake DeWitt might be a deal. Byrd would improve the outfield defense and DeWitt would be a “piece of mind” back-up for aging infielders Chipper Jones and Dan Uggla, something Prado provided.

      The deal would only cost the Braves roughly 2 million more in salary, not that big a deal..

      Maybe?

  • Aaron

    If true about the Braves’ interest in Byrd, I’d do that trade in a heartbeat for one of their minor league arms. While I like Byrd’s hustle, and the fact he dedicated himself this offseason….he still signed a 3 year deal…and is just NOW getting in shape….yeah….I’ll take a pass on him, even though I believe he’ll have a pretty good year if he stays healthy. He’s 34 years old….out with the old, in with the new, is what I say.

    I’d deal Soriano as well for a couple low-A players, and be done with it.

    • Scott

      I agree that it is frustrating that Byrd is only getting into shape in the last year of his deal, especially since he looked SO out of shape last year (at least to me).  However, since the season ended, he discovered that he is allergic to wheat and dairy – something that cannot be overlooked.  I have two people in my family that have an intolerance to wheat/gluten (not a full blown allergy) and I can tell you that it plays havoc with your body.

    • SuzyS

      I don’t see Soriano opening up with this wobegon version of the young Cubs. If he’s not traded…then they should release him.

  • Spoda17

    Please, please, please do not sign Cespedes… Soler, fine, Conscepcion fine… I have no interest in Cespedes…  if we want a physical specimen, I am sure there are some WWE athletes that would love to walk around the Cubs’ locker room during ST…

  • paulcatanese

    Don’t quite understand the idea that Major League teams have asked Cespedes not to play any further in the DR. Are they afraid he will bust further than he has already? Are they afraid that the signing of him for a lot of money will make them look like fools? The more he plays the worse he looks, and the cheaper his asking price should get.

    I wish I could see what they see in him,speed,strong arm, power,what?

    Against the pitching he has faced has indicated a lot of hole’s in his swing, and I havent heard about any outstanding fielding plays or throwing anyone out, of base’s being stolen.

    But teams following him must see something, how long before the rest of the baseball fans in this country see the same thing?
    This is the biggst risk since the guy that built a cabin near the top of
    Mt Helena, a week before the eruption. 

    • daverj

      Mlb teams might be concerned that Cespedes could get injured if he continues to play.

      • paulcatanese

        That would be the last thing I would be concerned with him.

  • Anthony

    READ this quote from Theo very carefully.

    “As the Cubs draft went on, we were sitting in our draft room (in Boston), and we could tell what they were doing,” Epstein said. “We looked at each other in the draft room, and we said, ‘Hey, they get it. They finally get it. They’re going for it.’

    “The dollars they spent in the draft and the dollars that we spend internationally … are some of the best investments that we make. It was a clear philosophical change, in my opinion, and a new direction. … It certainly aligns well with my vision of how to run a baseball operation.”

    ****the dollars they(Wilken) spent in the draft

    ****the dollars WE(Theo) spend internationally

    This was from right after he came aboard.

    • SuzyS

      Anthony, WHERE is the Theo Quote from?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Suzy, Theo made those statements during his introductory press conference.

  • Rational Logic

    Cespedes officially granted FA – let the bidding begin!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to multiple reports, MLB has informed clubs that Yoenis Cespedes is now a free agent.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is a prospect report from the Winter Leagues.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove11/story/_/id/7501504/danny-hultzen-tanner-scheppers-other-prospects-stocks-rose-winter-ball-mlb?eleven=twelve 

    The only Cub on the list, Bryan Lahair.

    Bryan LaHair, 1B, Chicago CubsLaHair has gone from a 4A hitter to one scouts believe in. After being one of the best hitters in the minors — batting .331/.405/.664 for Triple-A Iowa — he was impressive enough in an end-of-season stint with the Cubs that he’s been handed the first base job even after the acquisition of Anthony Rizzo.With things finally lining up for LaHair, he played this winter in Venezuela and dominated the league, hitting 15 home runs in 169 at-bats while drawing nine intentional walks. Just as importantly, he spent some time in left field, hoping to prove that when Rizzo is ready, he’ll be able to move, as opposed to just fade away.

  • Tony_Hall

    Miguel Cabrera is going back to 3B…his last 2 full years there were 17 errors in 2006 and 23 errors in 2007 with limited range.  He is going to have to get in better shape, to make this work.

    Of course, from a pure fantasy baseball perspective, he is the first pick, automatically, if he has 3B eligibility.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7502736/miguel-cabrera-detroit-tigers-move-third-base-prince-fielder?eleven=twelve

  • Jeff in Az

    Is it just me or does Cespedes remind you of Sammy Sosa (The roided version)?

    • paulcatanese

      Absolutly, Jeff, caught that the first time I saw his video,one of the reasons I don’t care for the guy. I think he is a definite clone, swing,actions, but probably not with the same results.

    • paulcatanese

      Absolutly, Jeff, caught that the first time I saw his video,one of the reasons I don’t care for the guy. I think he is a definite clone, swing,actions, but probably not with the same resultsOne Sosa was enough for me.

  • Anthony

    Do all MLB pitchers have more velocity than A ball pitchers?
    Do all MLB pitchers have better offspeed stuff than A ball pitchers?

    Do all MLB pitchers have better command than A ball pitchers?
    Do all MLB pitchers have better control than A ball pitchers?

    Why do I keep reading “you don’t how the hitter will handle MLB pitching?

    What makes it that much harder? A couple extra special arms scattered in MLB, and the rest, no big deal.

    Too bad the game wasn’t designed to parade any A ball hitter to the Show for 3-4 weeks as a starter and observe the results. That way, you could test them all out, and maybe a few surprise at the cost of minimum, and would stop the insanity of paying ransoms for Cubans, but then again, I keep forgetting, by association and affiliation, they are inherently much better at the game than Joe U.S ballplayer.

    Maybe I need to contact the roster fillers and make videos of them and market them to the Nipponese league. At least they’ll get paid.

    Sign the ham and pickle Theo, you had it easy in Boston plugging holes with free agents. This should be an easy overpay, right in line with past book.

    • Tom U

      I have to disagree, Anthony. While from a technical point, minor league pitchers can have the same velocity as their major league counterparts, the whole thing is a weeding out process.

      Maybe this guy’s fastball is too straight. Maybe this guy’s doesn’t break enough. Or, this guy has good stuff, but but he just can’t get it over the plate. What gets lost as we sit back in the stands or at home is how good these guys really are. It’s truly a special talent for these hitters to make these pitchers look ordinary, or vice-versa.

      As for marketing yourself in order to make the most possible money, who wouldn’t! The best hope is that true due diligence is made.

      • Anthony

         pretty fine line Tom, which was my point

  • paulcatanese

    The Cubs are “outsourcing” work to ad men in New York? Not nice in a union town, not surprised though, they place a lot of value on things
    from out of state and country.

  • Tom U

    Congratulations to Mayaguez, champions of the Puerto Rican Baseball League. The Indians and Cubs representative Kyle Smit will be moving on to the Caribbean World Series.