Cespedes Can Negotiate with Teams … and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Cubs are reportedly interested in a trio of Cuban players … Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion. While they have been able to negotiate a deal with Concepcion, the 18-year old southpaw, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer can now officially negotiate a contract with Yoenis Cespedes.

A day after the news surfaced that Cespedes had established residency in the Dominican Republic, MLB teams were told on Wednesday they can start negotiating with Cespedes and his agent Adam Katz.

While teams can negotiate a deal with the outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes cannot sign a contract. Cespedes must obtain an unblocking license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before he can sign. The license is required because he is a Cuban national who has established residency in another country.

Three of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system made MLB.com’s list of the best minor league players in the game. Brett Jackson (33) and Anthony Rizzo (37) were ranked in the top 50 and Javier Baez was ranked as the 62nd best prospect in the game.

Here is the update …

Yoenis Cespedes
The Cubs are considered the front-runner to sign Yoenis Cespedes but it is too early in the process to count out the ‘Mystery Team‘.

The Cubs, Marlins, Orioles and White Sox are believed to be the teams with the most interest in Cespedes. Rumors early Wednesday suggested that Cespedes really doesn’t want to sign with the Marlins … and Cespedes recently said that the Cubs were showing the most interest in him.

The Cubs have heavily scouted Cespedes. Jose Serra, the Cubs Coordinator of Latin American Scouting, attended Cespedes’ game in the Dominican last Monday. Serra is credited with signing current players such as Rafael Dolis, Alberto Cabrera, Welington Castillo, Jeffry Antigua, Junior Lake, Carlos Marmol and Starlin Castro.

Jason McLeod has spoken highly of Cespedes of late and has said the Cubs will bid on him. The Cubs figure to be in the mix for Cespedes until the end … but how far they are willing to go?

According to a report from Jesse Sanchez, “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 that is believed to be in the four to six year range.” Sanchez shot down the rumor from Wednesday that Cespedes is not interested in signing with the Marlins.

The next few weeks figure to be filled with Yoenis Cespedes rumors … this is just the beginning.

Baseball Is Better
The Cubs new ad campaign ‘Baseball Is Better has rubbed the ad agencies in Chicago the wrong way. The campaign was put together by The Brooklyn Brothers, a New York agency.

Theo Epstein was not involved in the decision to hire The Brooklyn Brothers. As it turns out, Wally Hayward and Crane Kenney made the call on hiring the agency.

The ad campaign will probably continue to evolve throughout the season to reflect other various thoughts about what baseball is better than.

Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez
MLB.com unveiled their list of the top 50 on the MLB Network Wednesday night … and the top 100 list on MLB.com. The top three prospects in the Cubs system according to many of the national publications made the list … and two made the top 50.

Brett Jackson was ranked as the 33rd best prospect in the game with the recently acquired Anthony Rizzo coming in just behind him at number 37. The Cubs first round pick from last June’s Draft, Javier Baez, came in at number 62.

Click Here for the Complete List of the Top 100 Prospects in Baseball

News and Notes
Chris Bosio is old-school according to the Tribune … and appeared to be extremely intense at the Cubs Convention.

The Lakeview Baseball Club has changed hands. The famous rooftop on Sheffield was recently sold in a bankruptcy auction for $4.8 million to the owner of Brixen Ivy, Mark Schlenker. The deal is expected to close next week. The Lakefield Baseball Club is the home of the ‘AC’ and ‘Eamus Catuli!’ signs.

The Brewers had shown interest in signing Kosuke Fukudome according to Ken Rosenthal but have decided against signing Fukudome after committing a combined $4.75 million for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoiki ($2.5 million posting fee and a two-year, $2.25 million contract). Fukudome would like to continue his Major League career but might end up playing ball in Japan instead.

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

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver