Although some already have began the rending of garments, we still continue to move forward in our tracking of Yoenis Cespedes as the Detroit Tigers (presumably) continue their vigil until the Cuban outfielder becomes a free agent.
There is actually very little real news that has occurred since our last update. So we'll start with that news, and proceed to the rumors portion of our day.
The news is, we still don't know when Cespedes will be granted free agency. Initially, that was thought to come in the latter half of the winter meetings, or during the Christmas/New Years holiday, or maybe January 15. But we really don't know. As Lynn Henning puts it, government red tape and politics are getting in the way.
So while that is sorting itself out, Cespedes will be playing baseball in the Dominican Republic's winter league. ESPN Deportes reports:
Cespedes (was) scheduled to make his professional debut Thursday against Gigantes del Cibao, said Luichy Sanchez, who works in Aguilas' front office. Cespedes initially will serve as Aguilas' designated hitter, a source close to the player said.
For the record, Cespedes went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi has no idea why Cespedes is taking such a risk.
Clay Davenport, who has a long history of such things, has crunched the numbers to come up with his expectations for Cespedes. (via Baseball Nation)
And they are:
He looks like he should be a solidly above-average major league player - not likely to be a Hall of Famer and maybe not even an All-Star, but someone who could place in the top third of starting center fielders for the next several years.
Davenport, you might know, is known for the Davenport Translations, in which he makes major league projections based on minor league and international numbers. So Davenport projected numbers for Cespedes based on the Cuban league, which he equates with Low-A in the USA. If you want to look at the raw results, you can find that right here. Cespedes is expected to have a batting average in the 260s, an OBP around .330 and slugging in the 460s. Davenport writes that Cespedes' statistics do not show him making a lot of use of the speed he's said to have.
Another way of looking at is EQA, or equivalent average. Again, it's a BP stat that you don't find at other sites. Cespedes would be expected to have a .260-.270 EQA, while the average center fielder is .269. Cespedes could be expected to have a 4 to 5 WARP when you include everything, which would "put him on the border of All-Star status." He'd have been the 6th best CF in 2011. If you want to put a major league face to what Cespedes might look like, Davenport says to choose the Orioles' Adam Jones. (To tout our FanPosts, here's a suggestion the Tigers trade for Jones.)
So from Davenport, the impression that I get is that it's OK to spend a few bucks on Cespedes.
OK, so all that written, now we can move on to the rumor-iest part of our day.
Six teams are said to be interested in Cespedes: Detroit, Miami, Baltimore, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and the Indians. The Tigers are frequently included in those, and there's really no reason to believe they aren't going to be a player.
Possibly the chief competition -- the Miami Marlins, who have always been chief competition in many people's minds -- Marlins president David Samson spoke out recently (via MLBTR)
"[The club's pursuit will be] aggressive right to the point of stupidity, but not quite there," Samson said. "We think he's a perfect fit for us, but it has to be sane. [We've been] expressing interest, going to visit, making it very clear to his representatives and to him and his family that we think he should not be anywhere other than Miami. As a Cuban and someone in the DR, it makes perfect sense. We have a perfect position for him to play. It would be great."
So there you have it.
Keep calm and carry on. Sometimes I think Tigers fans have a real inferiority complex. Detroit actually does get free agents from time to time, even ones from Latin America. Maybe Cespedes will end up in Miami, but let's let this play out.