The Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes have officially begun. A day after being granted residency in the Dominican Republic, the Cuban defector was declared eligible for free agency by Major League Baseball on Wednesday.
His agent, Edgar Mercedes, confirmed the residency in a telephone interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday.
MLB said Cespedes cannot finalize a contract until he obtains an unblocking license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control because he is a Cuban national who has established residency in another country.
Regardless, the Marlins have vowed to be "aggressive to the point of stupidity" in their pursuit of Cespedes, and now they are free to begin negotiating with him.
Marlins president David Samson, who uttered that memorable phrase, reiterated the Marlins' interest Wednesday on 790 AM's The Dan LeBatard Show. He said that Miami has not spoken to Cespedes' agent yet, but that could happen very soon.
"I believe we are able to start negotiating now," Samson told LeBatard. "We'll see. We're going to try as hard as we can. With that said, there's other teams."
Two weeks ago Cespedes told reporters the Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Indians have also shown interest in him. The Tigers might be out of the market now that they have signed 1B Prince Fielder to a $214 million contract, though.
MLB.com reported Wednesday that the Marlins could make Cespedes an offer between four and six years in hopes that he could be the final power hitter needed for the team to make a serious playoff run.
If the Marlins do sign Cespedes, it is not automatic that he will be on the team's Opening Day roster. Because he has not faced much Major League-quality pitching in his career, the team may opt to start him out at Double-A or Triple-A to get him up to speed.