The Oakland A’s Should Look To Trade Yoenis Cespedes
For the past few months now, I’ve been making overtures with Oakland A’s fans trying to see if there is any agreement, or sense of logic, in my assessment that the A’s should look into possibly trading their star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes this offseason, two years before he even is eligible to become a free agent. Most of the time this overture is met with some understanding and “I can see where you are coming from” comments, but in the end I would get the usual “but that would be crazy” and “you’re nuts,” so I wouldn’t push the thought any further. I mean, he is the one legitimate star the A’s have and have had in the past 5-7 years (especially after the show he put on at this year’s All-Star Home Run Derby contest). Still, it’s a thought and concept that I’ve always maintains in the back of my head; but after today, I found out that I’m not alone in this train of thought and I feel confident and vindicated enough to now publicly campaign that it may be in the best interest of the A’s to trade Cespedes this winter.
After signing a 4-year, $36 million contract in the offseason of 2012, Cespedes burst onto the baseball world scene by having a triple-slash line of .292/.356/.505 with 70 R’s, 25 2B’s, 23 HR’s, 82 RBI’s, 16 SB’s, an .861 OPS, and displaying gold-glove like defense in the outfield. He finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year award race to Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who many stat geeks argue had one of the top 10 best career years of all-time. This year however, Cespedes has been hit with the dreaded “regression” bug. Currently, he is hitting .226/.296/.423 with 51 R’s, 14 2B’s, 17 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 6 SB’s, an .719 OPS, and continues to battle nagging injuries. But despite Cespedes having a down year, his trade value is still very high, and if floated out onto the open market, I’m sure the A’s would get plenty of inquiries.
The reason for my vindication is that another, more high-profile baseball writer shares my same sentiment regarding this topic. The writer is ESPN’s Buster Olney, and in reading today’s issue of his daily blog (Click to see the Link – however, you must be an ESPN Insider to read it), the topic was “expect blockbuster trades this winter.” He explains that the reasoning for this expectation is that the upcoming free-agent market is expected to be fairly weak, with no real impactful players available on the market worth teams going out and spending big money on. He notes Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana looks to be the top starting pitcher available and assuming New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano resigns with them before he even entertains other offers from ball clubs, that leaves Cincinnati Reds outfielders Shin-Soo Choo, Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran as the only real big-name free-agents on the market.
Buster also stats that the enthusiasm heading into this free-agent market is low and we can all see why. But it’s his third observation that really lends credence to our thinking of the A’s trading Cespedes. To paraphrase, he says that small-to-mid-market teams are looking to trade players who aren’t signed to long-term deals earlier in their arbitration eligibility, to recoup as much value as possible. Instead of looking to trade a player a year before they become free agents, more teams are open to trading a player two-to-three years before their free agency, to maximize their return for that player they probably won’t be able to resign. This is a model teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and the A’s have become successful at, trading players like James Shields and Trevor Cahill and getting maximum value in return. The same might be said again this winter if the A’s decide to move Cespedes.
Also in Buster’s blog, he provides a short list of players who fit the criterion above and that he thinks might get talked about in trades this winter, and sure enough, Cespedes’s name was on it. Here is what he had to say regarding Cespedes:
[quote]“This is total speculation on my part, but remember that Oakland has typically looked to move its veterans two years or more from free agency. Cespedes is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season, and his trade value will never be higher than this winter. He is 27 years old, and will make $10.5 million for each of the next two seasons, and while his injury history is somewhat daunting, he would be one of the better power hitters available if the Athletics marketed him.”[/quote]
I would like to think that if maybe I would have gotten, or tweeted, at him earlier, he could have changed the “…total speculation on my part…” portion of his reasoning to “…total speculation on mine and Marc Keller of Baseball Hot Corner…” but I’m not going to dwell on opportunity lost.
I would also like to add on to Buster’s and mines thinking of trading Cespedes. There were rumors circulating around the All-Star break that Cespedes was going to sign on and join forces with newly licensed sports agent, Jay-Z, whose first major baseball client is pending free-agent, Robinson Cano. And it’s no secret that Cano and Cespedes are good friends, as displayed this past All-Star break when Cano picked Cespedes to be on his team for the Home Run Derby contest despite Cespedes not even being named an All-Star. Their friendship and playful banter was also nationally displayed by ESPN during the competition. Cano is all but assured to resign with the Yankees, a perfect match from him and his new New York based rapping sports agent. But if Cespedes goes through with hiring Jay-Z on to be his new agent, the stars could be aligning for Cespedes to be dawning the Yankee pin stripes.
Listen, I know A’s GM Billy Beane isn’t stupid. I have no doubt that if teams come calling for Cespedes that he’ll listen and if a Godfather offers comes through that he can’t refuse, he’ll have no fear in making a deal, and the A’s fan will trust him in his decision. I guess my underlining point for writing this piece, along with trying to jump out in front of a big-upcoming story, is sometimes it feels good to have an inclination, a thought, a hunch validated by a well-respected figure in the industry. And it also serves as a nice “see, I’m not alone” counter-point in what may turn into a well-contention debate and argument this winter.