It was not that long ago that the 2012 season for A’s baseball seemed to be one destined for mediocrity.
That perception changed Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
The A’s secured the highly coveted but untested Cuban defector Monday with a reported four-year, $36 million deal. The A’s bested the Miami Marlins, who were favored to add Cespedes to their A-list acquisitions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.
“Miami was a great visit,” Cespedes, 26, told MLB.com. “I had a good time. I ate with the team president and other people in the front office. They were nice and it was a great experience, but the A’s were for me.”
Cespedes was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball on Jan. 25 and was legally cleared by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to a report on MLB.com. Before reporting for spring training duties later this month, Cespedes will have to attain a worker’s visa and his signing won’t become official until he passes a team physical.
Cespedes’ somewhat stunning move to the West Coast comes after an enigmatic offseason that saw Oakland deal away its best pitchers in Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey. And while the hard-hitting righty will be undoubtedly deemed an asset to the A’s in keeping up with Albert Pujols and the division rival Los Angeles Angels, it’s unknown how well he’ll slug big league pitches.
But Cespedes, an eight-year center field veteran of the Cuban League, isn’t worried.
“I’ve been preparing every day for this, and I 100 percent believe that I am ready for the major leagues,” he told MLB.com. “I have a lot of international experience and experience at a high level. I’m very confident in my abilities.
“Believe me, I’m going to give the best I have, and I’m going to leave it all on the field. I’ll do my best and show I deserve this opportunity. I know I can do it. I’m ready.”
The rigors of the big leagues will determine soon enough if Cespedes is ready. But the 6-foot, 215-pound Cespedes was ready enough to desert the communist Caribbean island he called home.
“I am super happy because it’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” Cespedes told MLB.com. “To leave my country and play in the big leagues is what the goal was. My family is really happy, too. They are living their dreams through me.
“It was a difficult decision to leave Cuba, but I’m really excited with how things worked out.”