In a very interesting piece by Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, former Cuban league stud Yoenis Cespedes said that the Cubs offered him a six-year, $36 million deal and that he would have signed with the Cubs had they offered him the same contract that the Oakland A's did.
The thought of Cespedes having joined the Cubs is surely interesting. With Gerardo Concepcion in tow, and the Cubs highly considered the front-runners for Jorge Soler, Team Theo would have hit the Cuban trifecta this offseason.
Had Cespedes picked the Cubs over Oakland, the effects of the signing would have been huge.
First off is the fan reaction. Many fans would be calling for Cespedes to start in center field on Opening Day—the same fans clamoring for Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo and Trey McNutt to start the season with the Cubs. All the same, the "Cespedes No. 52" jerseys would be flying off the racks in anticipation of his arrival—remember the Fukudome hype?
However, Cubs exec Jason McLeod said he "would like him (Cespedes) to get 100 at-bats, if not more (in the minors)", which would likely not be met with much enthusiasm by many Cubs fans. However, there's no doubt in my mind that everyone from the front office to the most casual of fans for the Iowa Cubs would be thrilled by this move.
The next issue would be who plays center in the future. Brett Jackson performed well during his taste of Triple-A in 2011, but he's realistically still a good three months away. Odds are the Cubs won't be competing for much this season, so there's no sense in rushing him. There's also the issue of guys like Tony Campana and Matt Sczcur's future.
The final obstacle that Cespedes' signing would have brought is his actually readiness. Sure, scouts drool over him, but these are the same scouts that told us Mark Prior had a perfect pitching motion.
As we all know, Prior's perfect mechanics have kept his arm healthy, as he enters arguably his 10th season as the Cubs ace, and is generating buzz about potentially joining the 300-win club, and is as secure a lock for Cooperstown as there can be.
Back in reality, the question about how ready for the majors Cespedes really is still rages on. He had a pretty poor showing down in winter ball. Additionally, there is the minor question of whether he's really 26 or not.
All in all, it's a very interesting discussion about what would have happened had Cespedes become a Cub. However, it didn't happen, as he rebuffed their offer. Either way, it's likely a happier discussion topic than Carlos Marmol's hand cramps.
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