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J.D. Drew’s contract is up and there is no way the Red Sox re-sign Drew after his lack of production in recent years. As an alternative, the Sox may look to an overseas player to fill the void.
One player creating a lot of hype is Cuban Yoennis Cespedes. It is said that he is a five-tool player and can make an immediate impact. The Red Sox were one of the teams that attended his workout this past week. Does that mean he is a possibility? Not so fast.
With Ben Cherington the new GM for the Red Sox, two things could happen: he could try to pull off some impressive moves and sign some big name players. or he could make smaller moves in hopes that they pay off. It’s more likely he does the latter of the two and holds off from making any huge mistakes right away.
One of the largest mistakes former GM Theo Epstein made was the acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K was a highly touted pitcher from Japan who was widely considered to be the most talented pitcher to come out of that country. Epstein made the mistake of overpaying for the pitcher who only had one successful season in the majors. Does Ben Cherington want to make a similar mistake? Not at all.
Cespedes does “sound” like he could be an impact player in the majors and his numbers back that assumption up. In Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he hit .333 with a .424 OBP, .667 slugging percentage and a league record 33 home runs in 99 games in the 2010-11 season. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic he hit .458/.480/1.000/1.480 with a double, three triples and a homer in 24 at-bats for Team Cuba. (stats from WEEI.com)
At 26 years old, Cespedes might be a good fit to take over in right field for years to come. Even if he has predominately played in center field in his career, it is said he is capable of playing all three outfield positions.
The only problem with signing him is that the New York Yankees are also very high on the outfielder. That means that there could be a bidding war for Cespedes and the last time that happened between the Red Sox and Yankees for an overseas player was Dice-K (in the form of a $51.1M posting fee), and that didn’t turn out too well.
If the Red Sox can get him for a reasonable price and certainly don’t overpay for him, then why not try him out? There’s no way he could be any worse than Drew was.
It might also be easier for a position player to translate to the majors rather than a pitcher. Dice-K had a hard time because he didn’t understand the language and his stuff just wasn’t overpowering. Cespedes has seen many different pitchers and some of the best in the majors back in 2009 at the WBC. Besides it’s much easier for a hitter to adjust than a pitcher because of the dynamics that go into pitching.
Former Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman got a contract of $30.25 million over six years from the Cincinnati Reds and Cespedes is expected to get a similar contract. With the Yankees involved, the contract could get much higher.
If the Red Sox don’t go after Cespedes, then an alternative is Carlos Beltran. Beltran is eight years older (will be nine in April) and has had a history of injuries. He played in 142 games this past season with New York and San Francisco, but only played 81 games in 2009 and 64 in 2010 with the Mets.
If the Red Sox have to decide between Cespedes and Beltran, then Cespedes would be the better choice because of age and versatility. Any doubt of his talents then check out this video, and he’ll make anyone a believer.
This is a move Red Sox Nation should want to be made, but if it’s a bidding war between Boston and New York, then in end it might not be worth the gamble. Cespedes has the potential, but sometimes potential doesn’t translate into success in the majors (see Andrew Miller).