MLB Free Agency: Is Yoenis Cespedes New York Yankees' No. 1 Target?

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2011

Much to the chagrin of their fans, the New York Yankees have largely remained on the sidelines thus far in the offseason.

Perhaps that has been Brian Cashman's plan all along. Maybe he has been waiting for something, or rather, someone, to become available.

According to Kevin Goldstein of Fan Prospectus, ESPN and Sirius/XM, the New York Yankees are "big" on Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

In other words, Cespedes sits atop Brian Cashman's Christmas list.

There are rules surrounding Cuban players who are defecting with the intention of playing in the United States, and Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes explains how it works:

Because the residence will be temporary and non-permanent, Cespedes will still need a license from the OFAC (Office of Foreign Affairs Control) to be "unlocked" and allowed to sign with a team. Beginning last January, a Cuban player only needs to obtain permanent residence in a third country in order to be signed as a free agent.

That residency is expected to be finalized by the middle of January. 

We looked at the 26-year-old last month, and at that time much of what we knew about Cespedes was garnered from a 20-minute infomercial that was posted on YouTube, and the smattering of seemingly incomplete scouting reports that floated around.

As is the case more often than not, a sequel to the "film" has been released.

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In it, we get to see more random things from Cespedes, including a workout on the beach with former Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green.

Thankfully, we do get to see some baseball.

Sort of.

Just over six minutes into the video, we get to see Cespedes in the field. After almost two minutes of warming up, he unleashes his throwing arm, which looks to be both strong and accurate.

Around the 13-minute mark, we see Cespedes taking batting practice. He knocks the ball all over the field, hitting two balls out of the stadium and then apparently just because he can, he drives a ball into the stands from the left side of the plate. Note, Cespedes is naturally a right-handed batter and is not known to be a switch hitter.

Cespedes is naturally a center fielder, a position currently occupied by Curtis Granderson. The Yankees are no fools, and it is unlikely that they envision Cespedes pushing Granderson to the corners—more likely, they believe Cespedes can handle right field at Yankee Stadium.

Of course, right field is currently manned by Nick Swisher, a fan favorite who is entering the last year of his contract.

Should the Yankees sign Cespedes, it is unlikely that they would keep Swisher around as a fourth outfielder—especially one making $10 million. He could become part of a package to obtain reinforcements for the starting rotation.

Other teams will make a big push to sign Cespedes as well, but if Cespedes is going to go to the highest bidder, the Yankees rarely do not get their man.

This is something to keep an eye on for the next few weeks, as Cespedes could be the key that unlocks the floodgates on the Yankees offseason.

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