Report: Yankees held private workout for Yoenis Cespedes


Update (Nov, 8th): Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees had some serious heat watching Cespedes in the Dominican Republic, including pro scouting director Billy Eppler, VP of baseball ops Mark Newman, special assistant Gordon Blakely, and scouts Gary Denbo and Donny Rowand. That doesn’t strike me as a routine scouting trip.

Original Post (Nov. 7th): Earlier today the world was introduced to Yoenis Cespedes, the next big thing out of Cuba who will be so over-hyped that it’ll be nearly impossible for him to meet expectations. Tonight, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports that the Yankees held a private workout for the supposed 26-year-old outfielder on Monday, a clear indication that they have at least some interest in signing him. As far as we know, Cespedes has yet to declared a free agent by MLB, but that is expected to happen within the next couple of weeks.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
  • Steve S.

    “the supposed 26-year-old outfielder”

    Is this stuff still fair? Seems like when guys lie about their age, they get caught now. I was also under the impression the issues between the MLB and Cuba have been worked out some years ago.

    When was the last Cuban player to get caught lying about his age after signing a contract?

    • YankeesJunkie

      Considering that the US still has an embargo on Cuba the relationships are still fairly strained. Just because Castro is not getting nukes from the Soviets does not mean we are buddy buddy.

      • Esteban

        Ehhhhhh the strained relations between the US and Cuban governments have very little to do with this topic, except that Cubans (especially athletes) are not free to leave their country whenever they want.

    • Mike Axisa

      Latin American players get busted all the time for identity fraud, the Padres just had two kids get caught. It’s impossible to verify a Cuban player’s age because they don’t keep detailed records there. That’s why we still have no idea old El Duque or Livan Hernandez or Jose Contreras are.

      • BK2ATL

        Couldn’t we go back to his mother’s baseball career and get a sense of approximately whether he was born in 1985 or not? I’m sure there was video of the Cuban National teams at that time. This is not some random kid from out in the campo (country). His can be easily traced.

        I’m sure if the Yankees are, as reported, “particularily hot,” for this kid since his workout last Friday, that they’re pretty convinced about this kid. I mean, they brought him back for a private workout today. I’m certain they have more info on this kid than we do. They are moving forward in the process, not backward, nor just on the sideline. Just interesting.

      • alcan

        Wrong! Cuba keeps very good birth and medical records as a means to control its population. Ever since the regime established itself 99.9% of all cubans are born in hospitals and everyone has a number under the communist regime. Thus, birth records are very easily checked. However, pre-1970′s is where the difficulties come in while the government was still in flux from the previous Bastista government where records were of no use especially for the countryside peasants and the city poor slums where hardly any of those people were born in a hospital. Hence, cuban players like el duque and contreras who are about my age were born in the the early 60′s when everything was a mess… Unlike other latin american countries where people are born in back yard porches, Cuba has a social medical and political system to track all of its citizens. anyone born after, lets say 1978 can be easily tracked. Don;t mix apple and oranges! Cuba is not the DR

  • mustang

    Now starting in right-field for the New York Yankees number 57 Yoenis Cespedes….. Cespedes.

  • Tom Zig

    video removed by user

    • James
      • Jakeneck

        Needs more hype /s

        • Steve S.

          Seriously, that was a lot of fluff and very little baseball. I get it, he’s a work out warrior. What does that have to do with hitting a curveball?

          • Craig Maduro

            I was thinking the same thing. Seemed like he might be able to step on a football field and tote the rock 10-12 times just on pure athleticism, but I wanna know if the kid can play baseball.

          • BK2ATL

            He hit a couple of those in the video too. It was just a strange video.

          • Ted Nelson

            It’s a youtube video…

            I am quite sure that the Yankees and other teams aren’t basing their decision solely on that video. Guy has been playing in international competitions for years.

          • alcan

            There is plenty of media regarding the WBC and Pan Am games that showcase Cespedes. Scouts were already aware of this guy even when he was playing in Cuba. The video is just a promotion gone wrong. It is a marketing scheme directed at a certain demographic. the video is more about getting a Nike sponsorship than attracting an MLB team. Most baseball insiders know this guy can play ball, serious ball. If you watch the video, notice he makes a clothesline rope throw to third base from right field, not center-field

        • Avi

          Thanks for the link. I was dying to see the video all day and couldn’t because it was taken down.

  • mbonzo

    Perhaps this is why the Yankees didn’t take a bigger splash in the International market this year. A combination of laying low while the CBA is discussed, and they told him they’d be able to make their biggest offer after it was completed. Is it a coincidence that this year’s biggest International Free Agents (Darvish and Cespedes) will most likely be posted almost immediately after the CBA is completed? Darvish’ season just ended, so it makes more sense, but he’s already taken more time to post than most of the Japanese free agents of the past.

    • Sam

      Darvish hasn’t posted yet because the Japan Series is still going on. He’s waiting for it to end before he announces his decision. So it’ll be at least another week and a half or so.

      • mbonzo

        Its still going on, but Darvish was eliminated more than a week ago. Perhaps he is waiting, but most of the Japanese postings happened before it was over, or there would at least be some sort of leak from their agent. Remember that the more time he takes, the less teams will be involved to post a bid, and theoretically less money teams will be offering once they’ve won. (Less demand, less money)

        • bexarama

          Dice-K waited until the entire playoffs were over. It’s like if Prince Fielder became a FA when the Cardinals eliminated the Brewers.

        • Ted Nelson

          Why will less time to bid mean less demand? Teams aren’t going to suddenly start scouting Yu and decide how much to bid on him once he’s posted. It’s a closed bid. Theoretically they don’t know how much other teams are offering. Free agency between now and then could influence some teams, but I’m sure most of them have an idea of how much they’re willing to bid.

          As far as the timing… who knows? Could be the CBA. Could be out of respect. Most of the players posted aren’t as hyped as Yu, so he might want to avoid the bad press and disrespectful distraction of stealing the spotlight from his colleagues still playing for the league championship.

    • Avi

      This link doesn’t work. I’m dying to see this video already!!

    • Urban

      I do believe the Yankees actions over the past year or two have been tempered by possible changes in the CBA. George Steinbrenner was known for altering his tactics heading into the CBA, so I certainly think his son will do the same. Obviously, all the owners have to come up with some consensus on what they want heading into negotiations, so the Yankees have probably known for a while what changes Selig and MLB really want.

      Reading the tea leaves and what issues seem to be left on the table, I’m guessing MLB gets some form of slotting, with compensation for free agents going away. The owners (most of them) want the former while the Players’ Union wants the latter. I don’t expect an international draft will be included. My guess is the Yankees will tolerate slotting on the Rule Four draft in favor of keeping the international draft mostly open.

      As for Darvish, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to hold out for this year, seeing the free-agent class of pitchers is much weaker. His team knew (and assumed like we all did) that Yankee interest and money last year was going to Cliff Lee, and they likely wouldn’t be in on both Lee and Darvish. Even if the Yankees don’t get Darvish, or for that fact have a strong interest, doesn’t matter. It’s the idea that the Yankees *might* be participating is necessary to inflate prices, both on the posting fee and then the contract. So it was in the interests of both Darvish and his team to hold off on posting more season. Next year looks to be a good free-agent pitcher class, so if he’s coming over, this is the year to do it.

      I guess I’m just stating the obvious.

      • jon

        the free agent class in 2013 is a dream team

        Cole Hamels
        Shaun Marcum
        Zack Greinke
        John Danks
        Matt Cain
        Francisco Liriano

        • BK2ATL

          To his point, exactly the reason why it would make the most sense for Darvish to post this offseason rather than next.

          As opposed to the aforementioned, his only comp this offseason is between Wilson and Jackson. Next year, he’s possibly #6 or #7 in that list IF all of them hit FA.

          • Ted Nelson

            I don’t think either Marcum or Liriano would be ahead of Yu.

            Marcum isn’t better than CJ Wilson by any means, and Liriano is a train wreck. Even if he has a Cy Young 2012… still a HUGE risk.

        • William

          Hamels isn’t going anywhere.

      • Rookie

        For whatever it’s worth, Urban, what you say makes sense on all counts.

        And all of it’s obviously logical once you lay it out, but I didn’t know the behind-the-scenes on the CBA negotiations and although I had thought about why it didn’t make sense for him to choose to be posted last year, I didn’t think about the very logical reason why Darvish would choose this year to be posted.

        Thank you for a great post, Urban.

  • BK2ATL

    Yeah, it was interesting that RAB did the obligatory write-up on this kid this morning, then later this afternoon, Baseball America tweeted that the Yanks had him in for a private workout today. None of the local writers appeared to have anything on this either yet.

    I don’t know much about Ben Badler of BA to say good scoop or not, but just interesting that ESPN Insider ran with it too.

    If the story proves true, interesting indeed, considering Florida/Miami are reported to be in the favorites to sign him, with even the owner expected to go down and see the kid on Thursday. The Yanks beat them to it. The more I read about the Yankees’ involvement with this kid since his workout for several clubs last Friday, makes the story even more interesting.

    Stay tuned.

  • James

    So does “La Potencia” stick when he makes it here?

    • BK2ATL

      Who knows, but this kid is apparently getting more interest than any other FA on the market right now. Maybe talent, maybe potential low cost. I’d love to know what really happened at the workout last Friday.

      • James

        The only other legitimate center field FA is Coco Crisp. I think that has a lot to do with the interest.

        • BK2ATL

          Yeah, that too. Hahaha!!!

          Wait until the Yu Darvish stuff jumps off. I have a gut feeling that the Yanks will go in significantly on Darvish, while not so much on Wilson.

          What’s ultimately interesting about this off-season is that it’s possible that a couple of the biggest FA signings might not have yet played a single inning in MLB.

  • FachoinaNYY

    Never have I been more excited about the Yankees potentially signing someone that I hadn’t heard of 24 hours ago!

    • FIPster Doofus

      hahaha, well put.

    • BK2ATL


      The power of a promo video. It’s like something out of the ole WCW NWO (pro wrestling entertainment) days.

  • Urban

    I’m all for signing him, but he’s not someone who will be starting for the Yankees in 2012. He’d be a toolsy prospect.

    KLaw’s take beyond what’s been reported (plus power, including to the opposite field; physically impressive and he’s fast) is that he’s played in a league that’s the equivalent of low Class A here in the States, and noted that Leonys Martin, another player from Cuba, tripled slashed at hit .311/.492/.491 while in Cuba, then dropped to .295/.362/.421 between A and AA, with most of that coming at A ball. He has a few more words on Cepedes’ stance and swing that should translate better, but that his potential is a question mark.

    The full write-up, including mentions of his age, is behind the Insider wall in an article that mostly focuses on today’s Cabrera trade.

    If the Yankees were to sign him, I’m guessing he’d spend a year in the minors adjusting to better pitching and for the Yankees to evaluate his skills on a daily basis. He’s certainly worth a signing, but it’s hard to know what the Yankees will be getting.

    • Urban

      Just picked up an error. Martin’s stats were between AA and AAA, with most coming in AA.

      • Steve S.

        Whooops, my hand slipped.

        I was asked a few times on Twitter about Yoennis Cespedes, a Cuban outfielder who might become a free agent here in the next few weeks, after he’s cleared by the U.S. government and by the commissioner’s office. (I received conflicting information over whether the second part has already occurred.) What we do know on Cespedes is that he has plus power (including opposite-field power) and can run, with a 6.5 60-yard dash time in a recent workout, and he’s really well put together physically. He’s also listed at 26, an age we’ll have to take on faith, as Cuban ages are all but impossible to verify, and he’s spent his career from age 18 to 25 mashing in a league that’s equivalent to low Class A or worse. Leonys Martin hit .311/.492/.491 (BA/OBP/SLG) in his last full year in Cuba, then dropped to .295/.362/.421 between Double-A and Triple-A here, doing most of the damage in the former. Cespedes is bigger than Martin and much stronger, and has a far more conventional swing — with a wider, more stable base, although he has a busy lower half. However, he is three years older and might, like Martin, have to spend time in the minors adjusting to better pitching than he saw in Cuba.

    • Ted Nelson

      There’s not going to be a 1-to-1 translation of stats from one league to another. That Martin did one thing doesn’t mean Cespedes will or will not. A one man sample is ridiculous to suggest as evidence

      • Ted Nelson

        As far as what they’ll be getting… it’s hard to know, but it’s not totally different from any other free agent.

        The context: It’s hard to know what you’re getting even when you sign an established MLB OF like Crawford, Werth, Bay, etc.

        Cespedes has been playing on the Cuban team for a while now, so while we have not heard of him I would imagine the Yankees have been scouting him for years. Seeing someone in the WBC or PanAm games or Cuban league doesn’t tell you exactly how they’ll do in MLB, but neither does MLB track record.

        And the additional risk vs. a proven MLB player is already accounted for in his contract value. If the Yankees don’t think it’s fully accounted for, they’ll let him sign with the team that’s willing to (in the Yankees’ eyes) overpay.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if he started out in MiLB, but if he’s there a whole year chances are pretty decent that he’s a bust.

        • Rookie

          I don’t understand why you think Cespedes being in the minors for a whole year would mean that he’s going to be a bust at all — any more than any U.S. amateur player spending a whole year in AAA would mean that.

          Haven’t lots of very good players — even great players — done that?

          In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it took him a year to adjust to AA, adjust to the US, get his eye back, and get back in playing shape, and another year to adjust to AAA.

          • Ted Nelson

            “I don’t understand why you think Cespedes being in the minors for a whole year would mean that he’s going to be a bust at all — any more than any U.S. amateur player spending a whole year in AAA would mean that.”

            Because the dude is 26 years old.

            I do think there’s a chance that he has a rough first year, works hard, improves, and adjusts. I also think that there’s a chance he has a fine first year, but doesn’t get promoted. I just think that the probability is far higher than both of those that if a 26 year old professional baseball player (who has played in international competitions against MLB pitchers for years) can’t hit AA pitching, he’s never going to make it in MLB.

            “In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it took him a year to adjust to AA, adjust to the US, get his eye back, and get back in playing shape, and another year to adjust to AAA.”

            And would you pay $10 million for those two years?

  • Steve S.

    I haven’t seen a workout like that since Bo Jackson

  • Alfredo

    I have family in Cuba and the second i heard this news i called to ask about this kid. i heard nothing but great things, in my opinion he looks like a sound player. i would put him in the minors for a year and bring him up when swisher gone. also if Kemp becomes a free agent we might have the option of trading high on Curtis Granderson! imagine kemp, Montero, Cespedes in the same line-up that would be awesome.

    • Urban

      Or, imagine Kemp, Montero and Granderson in the same line-up. I think the odds of Cepedes being a better player than Granderson are extremely low. Less than 1%. (Yeah, I know, I made that up, but the odds of any baseball player accomplishing what Granderson already has is low, low, low, whatever the percentage may be.)

      Selling high on Granderson, or most players, is not a bad idea, as long as the Yankees are getting back something they need more who can provide as much value. 40-HR hitting, lefty-swinging CFers (or OFers) are not growing on trees.

      If Cepedes turns out to be that good, I’d rather imagine an OF of Cepedes, Grandy and Kemp.

      • Alfredo

        We can get the much needed pitching.

      • Ted Nelson

        The scenario you responded to said to trade high on Granderson “if Kemp becomes a free agent.” At that point Cespedes should have a full US season under his belt and the Yankees should have a good idea of what he can do (can’t project exact stats even for a proven MLB player, but can have an idea if he can or can’t be Granderson).

        Granderson himself only has so much of a chance at being 2011 Granderson again. He is not Albert Pujols or something. He’d hit 30 HRs in a season once before 2011. He also broke out with a .395 wOBA season in 2007 only to regress the next two seasons. Perhaps he’s reached a new level, but perhaps he had another fluke season he won’t repeat for 4 years.

    • Esteban

      yaaa Cubanos

      • Alfredo

        What is that suppose to mean?

        • Esteban

          I am also Cuban

    • bexarama

      imagine kemp, Montero, Cespedes in the same line-up that would be awesome.

      I don’t mean to be horrrrribly snarky here but let’s not get ahead of ourselves

      • RetroRob

        Yeah, there is a lot of getting ahead of ourselves here, but that’s the fun of the offseason. We can dream.

        Speaking of dreaming, I hear AndyPettitte has been seen doing wind sprints and stretching exercises. I’ll take him back. I still think he could have pitched effectively into his 40s. Dare to dream in the offseason. : -)

        • bexarama

          icu baitin’ me

          • RetroRob

            I think I’m batin’ myself. I miss Andy and am willing to give him Sweaty Freddy’s spot sight unseen.

            Sadly, until further notice, Andy is retired.

  • Brian S.

    And just like that, the Red Sox have sent “everyone” to see this guy according to Peter Gammons. LOL!

    • BK2ATL

      They REALLY need a RF.

      It’s gonna be interesting. I just think it’s funny that the Yankees just went right to the front of the line. LOL!!!

    • JohnnyC

      They’ve already ordered from Popeye’s and they’re bringing Battlefield 3.

    • Ted Nelson

      Hopefully all of these teams have seen him dozens of times already, given his international exposure and the relative ease of travelling to Cuba these days. I would imagine that this is more like the NFL Draft Combine (or his team’s pro day) after a guy has already spent 3 or 4 years playing NCAA football.

  • Rainbow Connection

    That’s the worst video I’ve ever seen.
    Also, he looks like a douche standing there admiring his HR for 8 seconds.

    • FIPster Doofus

      I agree.

    • Jesse

      I’m sure you’d be doing the same thing even if you hit the ball half as far…

    • JobaWockeeZ

      You look like a douche by typing words on a blog so don’t even go there.

    • Ted Nelson

      No offense, but you look like a bit of a douche imposing your cultural norms onto another culture. Have you ever seen an MLB C throw his glove in the air after an opposing hitter hits a HR? It’s not MLB, you can’t impose MLB norms.

  • Alfredo

    I like darvish a lot and would like the yankees to get cespedes, and either trade swisher or wait until cespedes is ready.

  • BK2ATL
  • Professorg

    Saw the video and this guy is either a Cuban version of Bo Jackson or he has ‘roids’ written all over him. On the other hand, what better stage for a showboat who can deliver than Yankee Stadium. Needless to say, a big, big ‘if.’

    • Rookie

      Great point, Proffesorg.

      Hope the Yankees are testing for steroids before they try to sign him — although I guess no player is likely to be stupid enough to continue doing steroids (if he was doing them at all) so long that they would show up on a test and then agree to do the test. But I hope they’re doing that part of their due diligence — or pricing their offer accordingly.

  • http://NYBronxBombers24-7 Brian

    Kemp or Cespedes?

    • FIPster Doofus

      Kemp, and it’s not even close.

    • Holy Ghost

      Kemp but I don’t see why the Yankees can’t theoretically sign both

    • Jerome S

      Kemp, although theoretically I could see several scenarios in which Cespedes produces more value per dollar.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t think there needs to be an “or” there… In fact, I’d put the odds of Kemp hitting FA at like 50/50.

      If the Yankees do sign Yoenis, though, they can re-evaluate Kemp if/when he’s available.

  • S

    I have a way of testing whether this guy is legit or not, have CC AJ and Noesi throw a simulated game against him, if he can prove capable against the great (CC) by battling, be able to walk against the wild (AJ), and actually hit the ok (Noesi) then sign him up.

    • Soriano Is A Liar

      I might be wrong, but I think I could draw some walks against Burnett if you gave me enough at bats.

      If I wasn’t too busy ducking away from every pitch because I’d be afraid of anyone throwing 90+ in my direction.

  • Robert

    So if we can sign this guy does that mean we bid adieu to Sir Swish?

    • Jerome S

      Why does everyone think this… that would be akin to emptying your refrigerator because you bought a small farm. No one said he’d produce goods, and no one said now.

    • Yu aint Matsuzaka

      After 2012 yes…

    • Jews for Jesus Montero

      Nah, you can’t assume the guy is going to immediately be an impact player on a Yankees team. He’d almost certainly start the season in the minors.

    • Reggie C.

      Should Cespedes sign here, i doubt the Yankees would start Cespedes at a level higher than AA. At that point, Cespedes has got to show he can adapt and succeed against the variety of power and finesse pitching that never existed in Cuba.

      • Mike Axisa

        They’d probably start him with High-A Tampa because of the weather, then move him up once it warms up. That’s what they did with Aceves and El Duque.

    • Holy Ghost

      Not until after the 2012 season when we’ll have a better idea of what Yoenis can do against major league pitching

  • Yu aint Matsuzaka

    They seem to really like him I suppose…

  • Reggie C.

    The only outfielder who has a near mortal lock to play on the 2013 Yankees is C-Grand. I guess Cespedes would require at least one full minor league season before he can make an impact that would allow us to part with one of Swish or Gardner.

    I say go and get Cespedes. There’s a serious dearth of OF talent that can push for a starting job in 2013. Mason Williams might be the best OF prospect and he hasnt seen Low-A. Go get Cespedes.

  • infernoscurse

    how is gary dembo a longtime scout? when he started in 2010

    • JohnnyC

      Don’t know about Gary Dembo but Gary Denbo has been in the organization since 1990 (with some brief stops in Cleveland, Nippon Ham, and Toronto). He was assistant farm director in 2000 and, after his stint as hitting coach in Toronto, returned to the Yankees as Player Development Consultant in 2009. He joined Eppler’s group as a pro scout in 2010.

    • Yu aint Matsuzaka

      He’s been with the org on & off in different capacities for over a decade.

  • AJ

    The videos of him make him look like Steve Nebraska.

    • FIPster Doofus

      I always love a Steve Nebraska reference. Well done.

  • cranky

    This situation is a lot like the Aroldis Chapman situation a while back. The Yanks didn’t think that Chapman was ready for the big leagues and/or that he was a reliever, not a starter. Thus, they made the decision that Chapman wasn’t worth a $30m investment (and they may have been right).
    I think they sign Cespedes only if they think he’s going to be a big league starter really soon. They’re not going to shell out $35m, or whatever, to have the guy spend a year in AA.

    • Ted Nelson

      Yeah I think that’s the case, especially since Cespedes is significantly older than Chapman. Chapman was more of a legit “prospect,” while Cespedes is more of a veteran in the Contreras sense.

    • Rookie

      If they think he’ll be a special player after two years in the minors, why wouldn’t they shell out $30 or $35 million?

      I suspect starting them in the minors is the smart thing to do with almost ANY player who comes over from Cuba or Korea or even Japan. I wouldn’t even want Darvish getting injured because he hadn’t adjusted to the larger, heavier MLB ball and the different pitching schedule (in the unlikely event that the Yankees won the posting bid and successfully signed him).

      • Ted Nelson

        Why is Darvish going to get injured throwing that ball in MLB and not the same ball the same number of times in AA?

        What evidence do you have that Cuban veterans improve strongly from year 1 to year 3?

  • fin

    Hmm, if they think he can be an impact player with a year in the minors I think they would still sign him. Its not like there is a ton of outfield talent in the minors. I’m sure they would hope hes ready a month or 2 after the season starts, and maybe impress enough in spring training to start the year with the yankees as a 4th outfielder.

    • Ted Nelson

      What are the chances that a 26, 27 year old progresses that much in one year, though? There’s certainly a chance his learning curve is that steep given the transition, and I agree he’d probably open in the minors unless he was Barry Bonds in spring training (and maybe even still then… small sample and get him + the 3 current starters regular PAs for a while). I just imagine that if he needs the full season in the minors because he’s not dominating down there or struggles with a call-up, it’s not that likely 1 season is going to turn that around for a 26, 27 year old. Yankees might leave him down all season even if it’s painfully obvious to everyone else that he should be up, I suppose. That should mean that Swisher, Granderson, and Gardner are having good seasons, though, which is a good problem to have. (Or if one is struggling I’m sure everyone will want Cespedes up even if he’s struggling himself…)

  • http://NYBronxBombers24-7 Brian

    The Yanks are going to sign Darvish or Cespedes I think that’s just my opinion

    • Jesse

      That’s a lot of peoples opinions.

      I say the Yanks get Cespedes while Darvish goes to Toronto. Those damn Canadians…

      I kid, I kid.

  • LarryB

    Yoennis Céspedes and Yu Darvich will be with the Yankees. You want to see theses kids , just go back to the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Both were awesome.