Yoenis Cespedes provided a list of six teams that he said were interested in signing the 26-year-old soon-to-be free agent and it didn't include the Washington Nationals. Cespedes made his Liga de Beisbol Dominicano debut last night, as the DH for Aguilas Cibaenas, going 0 for 3 with 3 K's and a HBP in his fourth AB as the Aguilas lost 6-4 to the Gigantes del Cibao. Talking to reporters, including Dionisio Soldevila (@DSoldevila), the Cuban-born outfielder who's currently establishing his residency in the Dominican Republic, said the Marlins, Orioles, Cubs, White Sox, Tigers and Indians were the six teams that had expressed interest. The Nationals are known to have scouted Cespedes. They've openly stated their desire to add a center fielder/leadoff man. D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview with ESPN980's The Sports Fix's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan, that the Nats had seen Cespedes live 26 times, with the general manager taking in a private workout as well.
"Our international people, we have an affinity for him," Rizzo told the ESPN980 hosts, "we like him a lot and we'll see where that takes us. There's some questions: 'Can he stay in CF with that big, physical frame of his?' That's one question. You always have the question of, 'What level of play do you see him play in those international tournaments?' and, 'Can he handle the everyday grind of a major league season?' So, we've scouted him as you could imagine we've scouted him quite a bit. We feel comfortable with our knowledge of him and we'll see where that takes us.'"
FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi wondered aloud in an article last night entitled, "Cespedes playing in games, for reasons unclear", why Cespedes and his agent had made the decision to play in the DWL, "... given the catastrophic impact an injury would have on his efforts to sign a contract." (ed. note - "Not to mention removing a little bit of the mystery that might have remained.") Cespedes told Dionisio Soldevila he wasn't worried about lowering his value by playing. Mr. Morosi, however, did list the Nationals as one of nine teams with, "... varying degrees of interest in Cespedes."
In the ESPN980 interview, Rizzo explained that what made the decision on Cespedes so difficult was the size of the contract being discussed. "This is a major league contract at major league money and mistakes of this proportion can really set you back a long way," the Nats' GM said. Former Nats' GM Jim Bowden (JimBowdenESPNXM) speculated on Twitter that he thought the, "Omission of the Nats from teams interested in Cespedes either means they question the bat or want to spend on a better FIELDER..as in Prince [Fielder]." Or it could mean a number of other things, of course.
Florida Sun-Sentinel Marlins beat writer Juan C. Rodriguez transcribed an interview Miami team president David Samson did on 790 the Ticket in Florida yesterday for an article entitled, "Miami Marlins have not changed stance on Fielder; Cepedes remains top target", in which the president said the Fish would aggressively pursue Cespedes, "Aggressive right to the point of stupidity, but not quite there,' said Samson, characterizing the club’s planned pursuit. 'We think he’s a perfect fit for us, but it has to be sane.'"
Cespedes not listing the Nationals as a suitor doesn't necessarily eliminate them from contention. The Nationals believe they have other options in center, and more on the way in the system, but they've still looked at Cespedes, the Nats have done their due diligence, scouted the outfielder and expressed interest, though D.C. GM Mike Rizzo hasn't done so as boldly as the Marlins president just did.
As Rizzo said in the ESPN980 interview, after scouting the outfielder, weighing the options and satisfying any questions you have, "... you need to feel very, very comfortable," with the answers you arrive at, "... and if you're not, this is somebody you should not walk away from, [but] run away from," but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going running right to Prince Fielder, as the former Nats' GM suggests either.