Earlier this week, Yoenis Cespedes signed a four-year deal with the Oakland Athletics, a move that surprised many teams, including the Miami Marlins, who were most aggressively pursuing the free agent. While many Marlins fans have yet to see Cespedes actually play, there's a strong feeling of being let down after being spurned by the potential star.
The Marlins did succeed in bringing a number of new players this offseason to improve their roster heading into the 2012 season. But they have also come up short in their attempts to sign Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and now Cespedes.
Will the failure in luring in the Cuban star hurt the team? Here are seven ramifications the Marlins will face in losing out on Yoenis Cespedes.
We've never quite seen an offseason in which a team has tried as hard as the Marlins did in re-branding their organization. Starting from a new team name to new uniforms, a new ballpark, new coach, new players and basically a whole new persona in an effort to be more attractive to an entirely new demographic. After revealing their new logo and uniforms, it was obvious that the Marlins were hoping to broaden their fan base toward more of the flashy South Beach-Miami market. In doing so, the team hoped that the change would result in higher attendance, which has plagued the team for years while sharing a football stadium with the Miami Dolphins.
What better way to represent the new Miami swag than to bring in a player who was regarded my some to be the one of the highest rated Cuban players in the last decade? The Miami area is famous for its Cuban-American population, and it would have greatly benefited from signing a player like this. The Marlins were trying to land the popular Cuban player with the idea that it would translate to an increase in ticket sales.
With two of baseballs up and coming stars in Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison, the Marlins could have added a center fielder to that mix. The combination of Cespedes, Stanton and Morrison would have given the Marlins potentially one of the best offensive outfields for years to come. All three of those players have the ability to hit 20 to 30 home runs a year, which is something that the majority of teams in baseball all want.
Known as a five-tool prospect, Cespedes put up monster numbers while playing professional baseball in Cuba. In his most recent year, Cespedes finished near the top of his league in almost every offensive stat category, including home runs, runs scored, total bases, steals and slugging percentage. Respectfully, the Marlins finished 23rd in runs and 19th in slugging percentage in the MLB, proving how much of an upgrade Cespedes would have added to the team.
Current center fielder Emilio Bonifacio is no slouch, and the Marlins still have Chris Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year on the roster. Neither look to have the potential star power like Cespedes, which would have been a significant upgrade at the center field position for the team.
Unless you are the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, it's not often that your ownership gives the front office the kind of spending freedom the Marlins were given this offseason. With the new ballpark coming into play, as well as years of saving money from the MLB's revenue-sharing, the Marlins were able to chase big-time free agents. Without a real spending limit, the team wined and dined several players, while giving them a personal tour of their new ballpark—Cespedes included, once his residency to the Dominican Republic went through.
The team was able to lure Jose Reyes down to South Beach from New York, as well as land a few other prominent players; but they still managed to strike out on three major names on their wish list. Miami went all out in trying to sign Albert Pujols, who instead decided to commit to the Angels. They also extended a six-year deal to C.J. Wilson, who also declined and joined Pujols with the Angels.
The latest failed attempt in signing Cespedes doesn't exactly make the Marlins' offseason spending spree a failure, but it does put into perspective that they did miss out on a few key targets.
Showtime announced that the Miami Marlins will be featured for season two of The Franchise. You can expect the entertainment value that Ozzie Guillen, Jose Reyes, Carlos Zambrano and Hanley Ramirez will bring to the show. One can only imagine how interesting it would have been to see on television the Cuban defector's transition to the MLB and all that comes with that process.
Showtime was able to tape his visit with the Marlins' front office, but unfortunately that's all we will be able to see. How would he have fared in getting along with his new teammates? Would the intense media coverage and hype in Miami be too much for him to handle? We will never know—but it surely would have been interesting.
With the inability to lock in Cespedes to a deal, it almost resorts back to the Marlins old ways of spending. Even with Marlins president David Samson stating the team would be willing to "negotiate to the point of stupidity," they were somehow outbid by Billy Beane and the Oakland A's. What's puzzling is why the Marlins couldn't up their ante for Cespedes, especially if they were as serious as they said they were in trying to sign him.
For years, the Marlins' payroll has been on the lower end of the league's range. They have resorted to trading players as soon as they were due big paydays and not being aggressive in signing marquee free agents. Comparing the four-year, $36 million deal the A's gave Cespedes and what the Marlins offered, the difference doesn't seem to be too much. Perhaps the Marlins hit their spending limit or maybe they thought Beane saw something in player that they didn't.
Is this a sign of things to come from the Marlins front office in the future? Does this mark the end of their uncharacteristic spending spree?
As much as the Marlins accomplished this offseason, they still look on paper to be behind the reigning NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Atlanta Braves have a great roster filled with young talent and came within one game of the playoffs last year. The signing of Cespedes wouldn't have necessarily put them over the top, but it would have helped them continue to build a roster to compete in what could be one of the toughest divisions in baseball this year.
The Phillies were able to add All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon to their roster this offseason and re-signed Hunter Pence. The Washington Nationals even made some noise by trading for starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez to be paired in a dangerous 1-2 punch alongside a healthy Stephen Strasburg.
In a division that already includes power hitters such as Ryan Howard, Dan Uggla, Michael Morse and Jayson Werth, the signing of Cespedes would have helped the Marlins battle for one of the division's top offensive lineups.
Will Yoenis Cespedes turn into the next great center field power hitter? Or perhaps a huge bust a few years from now? That's the gamble Billy Beane took and the one the Marlins did not—and only time will tell.
The A's were in desperate need of an outfielder who could hit home runs, while the Marlins seem pretty set moving forward on their Opening Day lineup. Sure, the move by Cespedes to not choose the Marlins may hurt the feelings of a fan base, who assumed his signing was a sure thing.
While there is always excitement in chasing a player who has a lot of upside, there also comes extreme risk. According to a recent article in the Miami Herald, there have been over 30 Cuban prospects who have made the majors in the past 20 years. The majority of them never reached the hype, and none of them ever made an All-Star team.
With those kind of odds, it's a little understandable why the Marlins brass chose to pass on this opportunity.