The Oakland Athletics, after an offseason highlighted by subtractions, made a stunning addition Monday by signing free-agent Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million contract.
Cespedes, 26, is considered a player of immense promise, but he has never played outside of Cuba, and some scouts question whether he will succeed in the majors.
The Marlins were believed to be the front-runners for Cespedes, who visited Miami and met with Marlins officials last week. But the Athletics are trying to build a core of young talent as they prepare for a possible move to San Jose, and Cespedes fits their long-term plan.
The Cubs, Tigers and Orioles were among the other teams linked to Cespedes. A younger Cuban outfielder, Jorge Soler, 19, is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and is expected to draw attention from those clubs and others.
Cespedes, as part of his deal with the Athletics, can become a free agent when his contract expires, sources say. Thus, he would hit the open market again in the middle of his prime. If he fulfills the Athletics' expectations of him, an even bigger payday will lie ahead.
The deal is contingent on Cespedes passing a physical. He then will need a worker visa, like any other non-US citizen. But he is otherwise cleared to play.