A major hurdle for Yoennis Cespedes to sign with a Major League team has been cleared today. Cespedes has been granted a travel visa from the Dominican Republic and is expected to arrive in Miami late this afternoon.
Cespedes is expected to meet with his agent, Adam Katz today. They are both expected to meet with the Miami Marlins as soon as tomorrow. He will likely also get a tour of the new stadium.
Yoennis Cespedes was granted free agency last month after he established residency in the Dominican Republic. Cespedes, however, cannot sign with a team until he is legally cleared by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. In addition to the Marlins, the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers have been most heavily connected to Cespedes in rumors.
Earlier this off-season, Danny Knobler reported that Cespedes had no interest in playing in Miami. I did not believe Knobler then, and I am even less compelled to believe him after this Ken Rosenthal tweet.
Bruce Levine, of ESPN Chicago, had this to say about the Cespedes sweepstakes:
"The five-tool centerfielder will be a rich man before he sees one pitch in spring training, as industry sources tell ESPNChicago.com that the bidding for the Cuban defector may go as high as six years, $60 million."
Levine suspects that the Marlins and Cubs are the teams driving up the price on Cespedes. The bidding for Cespedes should be interesting.
Even if Cespedes signs with the team before Spring Training, the team is likely to have Emilio Bonifacio as their starting center fielder, with Cespedes beginning the season in either Double-A or Triple-A.