MLB Rumors: Cubs Aggressively Pursuing Cuban Star Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes

Eli GreenspanSenior Analyst IJanuary 17, 2012

SAN DIEGO - MARCH 18: Yoennis Cespedes #51 of Cuba runs to third base after hitting into the corner of the outfield againts Japan during the 2009 World Baseball Classic Round 2 Pool 1 Game 5 on March 18, 2009 at Petco Park in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

AP correspondent and ESPN Radio contributor Dionisio Soldevila reports via Twitter that Yoenis Cespedes has not received any formal offers—because he is not yet a free agent—but that the Cubs have shown the most interest in the highly touted outfielder.

They have even taken him to dinner a few times. 

Cespedes, 26, was called "arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation" by Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. He is incredibly talented in the field and at the plate and could be gracing a major league outfield as early as this season. 

Now, players are always over-hyped coming from Cuba—from Yuniesky Betancourt to Juan Miranda—but there is always interest in the event you come across a stud under everyone's noses.

Kendry Morales, also from Cuba, appeared to be on his way to becoming a fantastic Angels slugger, but he injured his leg in the middle of 2010 and hasn't played a game since.

Cespedes has consistently hit for average and power, drawing the attention of every team in recent years. As Peter Gammons wrote, Cespedes possesses a "37-inch vertical and a 6.35 time in the 60-yard dash, ungodly power and the focus of about two dozen major league teams that have been in constant contact with his agent, Adam Katz, for weeks."

That was written in November, and the interest has only gotten more intense.

This, in no way, is a sure thing for the Cubs. A lot of teams are lying in the weeds, waiting for him to officially become a free agent, while teams like the Cubs are doing their best to woo him as close to a deal as legally possible.

The Cubs, Marlins, White Sox, Tigers and Yankees are among the teams interested in the outfielder. He could bring value to any of those teams in a number of ways.

Some are projecting that he could earn as much as $10-15 million annually over a five-year deal.

Think about it, he is 26 years old, entering the prime of his career. That could be slowed by an adjustment year or two, but by 28, he will still have four or five years of his best baseball if healthy.

If the Cubs do sign him, that means that Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano are long-term expendable with Brett Jackson inching closer to Chicago as well.

For 2012, adding Cespedes gives the Cubs more depth, and it could prove to be a high reward long-term.