The White Sox, who have a successful history of signing Cuban players, were one of several teams to inquire about Cuban free agent Yoenis Cespedes but their pursuit never reached a serious stage, sources indicated Monday. The price for an untested player at the major-league level was too high for a team that cut payroll and is the only one in baseball without a free-agent signing this offseason.
The Oakland A's stunned the baseball world with Monday's signing of Cespedes, for four years and $36 million. Cespedes' visit to the Marlins last week and his declaration that he wanted to play in Miami, followed by a reported six-year offer from the Marlins, made Miami the likely landing spot for the five-tool center fielder. The Cubs were also thought to be a leader in the competition for his services, and the Sox were on the list of teams Cespedes said were interested.
The A's, who made a run at shortstop Alexei Ramirez before he signed with the White Sox, never came up until Monday.
"At the end of the day with all these big free agents, it comes down to the total package," Cespedes' agent, Adam Katz, said. "Sure, money and the economic package had something to do with it. But it's also about all the surrounding circumstances. And basically, this was a player who felt like this club wanted him more than anybody else."
Cespedes' signing would have generated some needed interest among the Sox' skeptical fan base. But again, in their current position and holding a number of bad contracts, they were not willing to stick their neck out on an unproven commodity.
"The tools are there,'' Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said last week. "But you never know what's going to happen. How's he going to handle major league pitching? How's he going to handle major league media? We don't know. There's a lot of ifs."