Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish isn't the only coveted free agent from another country this offseason.
Cuban phenom Yoennis Cespedes, 26, is grabbing the attention of many teams in Major League Baseball. The five-tool center fielder has shined on the Cuban national team in the World Baseball Classic and is now becoming a household name by releasing his own 20-minute promotional video.
To Cubs fans, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Although the new regime in Chicago has all but hinted they do not want to be big spenders this offseason, Theo Epstein certainly has a taste for players like Cespedes.
In 2006, Epstein and the Red Sox signed Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52 million deal. Boston paid an additional $50 million just for negotiating rights with the star. That same offseason, Boston pursued Kei Igawa, another Japanese pitcher.
While Matsuzaka is the only big-name player to come stateside for Boston, Epstein maintained one of the strongest international scouting programs in baseball. He is always looking for the next big thing both in and out of America.
Now that Chicago has planned a private workout with Cespedes, we know the team has interest and sees something in the 26-year-old star. But is signing him in the best interest of the ballclub?
Cespedes is ready to hit the majors and contribute to a team. However, he could cost quite a bit of money. Many assume he will receive a deal no less than the $30 million Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman received.
Given the Cubs heavy payroll and some huge contracts, such as those of Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, should they spend the money and gamble on Cespedes?
The Cubs must also take into account the outfield is already full at Wrigley, though it isn't outstanding.
Soriano, believe it or not, still produces for Chicago and occupies left. Marlon Byrd still has a year left on his deal worth $5 million and stands in Cespedes' spot in center. Tyler Colvin and Tony Campana will also return in 2012 and will retain their roles.
Then there is top prospect Brett Jackson. He will likely see Wrigley Field this season and many consider him to be an integral part of the Cubs future.
Although both of these factors don't exactly help Yoennis Cespedes' chances in Chicago, the Cubs need to make him a top priority this winter.
The Cuban phenom is a five-tool player and those don't really come around too often. Cespedes has frightening similarities to Dodgers star Matt Kemp with regards to glove work, speed, and power. Kemp nearly reached the Triple Crown and should be named N.L. MVP soon.
Kemp will most likely never see the open market, so the Cubs need to grab Cespedes while they can.
Most importantly, signing Yoennis Cespedes makes a statement.
The new regime won't spend the big money on Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but buying into this phenom and paying him what he deserves says the Cubs will contend sooner rather than later.
Cespedes would be a huge addition to a core of Starlin Castro, Matt Garza, and Brett Jackson for now and future years to come.
There is no reason Yoennis Cespedes should not be in Cubbie pinstripes in 2012.
Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined the B/R in October 2011. Any comments, questions, or suggestions are more than welcome.
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