2.) Will the Phillies pursue Yoenis Cespedes?
This is a huge question, and one that proposes an interesting scenario. Yoenis Cespedes entered the offseason, as one of the most-attractive free agents, yet he’s found himself still one the open-market in January. Reports surfaced on Friday, that the Baltimore Orioles had made an offer to Cespedes, but that quickly went by the wayside as the team re-signed slugger Chris Davis. That eliminates a major pursuer for the Cuban’s services.
Cespedes has spent the last 18 months, with three different teams. He was acquired by the Boston Red Sox at the 2014 trade deadline, but was later traded to the Detroit Tigers in December of 2014. Cespedes found himself on the move once again, this time headed to the New York Mets. As a result of this trade, Cespedes was deemed ineligible to receive a qualifying offer. Therefore, he has no compensation attached to him in the event of a signing.
Enter the Phillies.
Currently entrenched in a rebuilding mode, the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as future contenders. They’ve managed to turn one of the weakest farm systems in baseball into one of the strongest, over the span of about 6 months. The trade of Cole Hamels back in August landed a king’s ransom that included Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, and Jake Thompson. Somehow, the team managed to do the same thing with Ken Giles, when they landed a package including Vincent Velasquez and Mark Appel for the former closer. When you factor in players like J.P. Crawford, Odubel Herrera, and Aaron Nola, it’s an understatement if you say the Phillies have a plethora of young talent. The one thing that this team is lacking though, is a true veteran presence.
That’s where Cespedes comes in.
It may seem a little perplexing for a team that is rebuilding to sign a 30-year-old outfielder that is looking to compete now, but the Phillies have a couple of factors going in their favor. For one, they can sign him to the type of contract that he’s in search of. The payroll flexibility this team saved with the trades of Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Jonathan Papelbon freed up a fair amount of green, and the team should put some of that to good use. Secondly, Cespedes would be the star attraction in Philadelphia. There’s not much in the way of household names within the Phillies organization, so Cespedes would instantly become the “Face of the Phillies”. Finally, Cespedes has four years of major league service under his belt. He’s been through the ups and downs, and knows how to deal with it. That veteran experience would be a huge benefit to all of the young talent in the Phillies clubhouse, and would seemingly make the team a more mature squad.
Whether or not it comes to fruition remains to be seen, but it makes for an interesting conversation, the longer that Cespedes remains on the open market. The more he sits out there, his value takes a dip. At some point, one has to believe that the Phillies will at least make a call.