In a somewhat surprising turn of events, it seems that the 27-year-old Cuban outfielder known as Yoenis Cespedes has signed a four-year, $36 million contract to play for the Oakland Athletics. Cespedes was linked to many teams this offseason and remarked at one point earlier in the offseason that the Chicago Cubs were his leading suitor, while the Miami Marlins recently offered him a six-year deal that was reportedly a bit under $40 million.
THT Forecasts (subscriptions available through this link), projects Cespedes for a very modest, but above-average, output for the next four years. For 2012, Oliver projects a triple-slash line of .266/.308/.447 while forecasting a triple-slash line of .258/.298/.422 in 2015 (the last year of Cespedes’ contract).
On the plus side, Oliver projects Cespedes’ power around 20 home runs per 500 plate appearances, and fantasy owners should be excited for the 10+ stolen bases that THT Forecasts envisions Cespedes capable of producing.
Keeping in mind what Alexei Ramirez and most Cuban prospects have done in their transition to the major leagues, that production seems about right (with upside, of course). As with Ramirez, I also would not expect much in the way of on-base prowess.
Overall, Cespedes immediately projects as a .325 wOBA guy with power upside and on-base downside. That could easily result in 2.0-3.0 WAR production over 162 games with a good enough glove. At $9 million a year for only four years covering a power hitter’s prime, the A’s have made a really solid investment with upside. Cespedes should at least be worth what the team is paying him.