A bidding war could be about to erupt for a .143 hitter in the Dominican Winter League, and the Miami Marlins plan to outspend everyone for him.
ESPN analyst and former Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden tweeted Monday night that the Marlins "remain committed to outbidding the Cubs and Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes if and when he becomes a free agent."
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted earlier Monday that the Cubs and Tigers were also interested in the Cuban centerfielder, who has been on the Marlins' radar since late 2011. All three teams are now "tracking him closely" in the Dominican Republic, according to Rosenthal.
Cespedes first hit the national radar in November, when he gave an open workout to several MLB teams in the Dominican Republic and a bizarre video of one of his workouts went viral. He defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic in June, with the intent of signing a free agent contract with an MLB team.
He has not yet been granted residency in the Dominican Republic, which is why MLB has yet to grant Cespedes free agency. According to MLB.com, the residency process could take up to three months in the Dominican Republic, but Cespedes' representatives are confident he will be granted residency soon.
Earlier this month, Marlins president David Samson appeared on 790 AM's The Dan LeBatard Show, saying "We think he's a perfect fit for us." He added that the Marlins would be "aggressive to the point of stupidity" in trying to sign him when he is granted free agency.
Cespedes certainly has all the tools to be a starting center-fielder. He is big, strong and fast, and would be automatically embraced by South Florida's huge Cuban-American community.
However, the Marlins may want to take pause before breaking the bank for Cespedes. Though he raked in Cuban leagues and international competition, Cespedes' debut in the Dominican Winter League has been less than stellar.
He has hit .143 in limited action in the Dominican Winter League, but in his last full season in the Cuban National League (2010-2011), Cespedes hit .333 with 33 home runs and 99 RBI in just 90 games. Granted, that is against less-than-stellar competition, but it is enough for teams to covet him.
The Marlins have shown they are willing to shell out the dough for a superstar or two this offseason, so no one should take these reports likely. Miami will make a strong push to sign Cespedes in the near future, and it will take an enormous offer for some other team to top them.