Céspedes chooses Oakland: Was decision more than a $$ matter?
By Alvaro F. Fernandez
Cuban star Yoenis Céspedes will not be playing major league baseball in Miami. Earlier this week he decided to take his talents to California and play with the Oakland A’s.
Can you blame him?
It has been reported that Oakland will pay the speedy, power-hitting centerfielder $36 million over four years. Miami had offered the same amount, but over a six-year period. Three million a year is nothing to sneer at. Especially when you consider, as I am sure Yoenis has, if he is as good as they say he is, Céspedes is looking long-term: After four years he can negotiate a new contract for even a larger number than the $9 million he’s getting – maybe even play right here in Miami.
In the end it’s all a gamble. That’s the nature of professional sports these days. As most everything in this country, it seems, it’s money driven. And the plan is to play (your best)… for an even richer contract down the line.
It’s also a gamble for the Oakland ownership. They must pay an unproven (at least here in the U.S.) player who better produce immediately. There’s no time to develop him gradually when you’re only guaranteed of keeping him for four years.
Personally, I hope he hits .300, with 100-plus RBIs and 40-plus homers. Too bad he’ll play so far away. I would have loved to see him day in and day out right here in our backyard. But let’s be clear, I would not have paid him what he got either. I guess I’m sometimes too cautious that way.
But there’s another point I’d like to bring up about probably Cuba’s finest baseball player to defect in the past decade, at least.
First and most importantly, I believe Yoenis Céspedes has every right to be playing in the major leagues. There’s no reason to have to refer to him as a Cuban defector. As one of the best baseball players in the world he should be eager to compare his talents against THE best baseball players – and from all parts of the globe – in the world playing here in the United States. If he is getting paid way too much money for his talents… I guess I would put myself in his shoes. (Hell yeah I’d take the money!)
It’s an issue I hope Cuba deals with. I understand the country spends millions developing these ballplayers. And we’d love to see all sports maintained at the amateur level – in other words, sports for the love of the game. Reality is not always what we wish for, though. It’s about time that Cubans like Céspedes don’t find the need to “defect.”
Finally, there’s a thought I’ve been mulling in my head since I heard the Marlins were one of the teams with a chance to sign Céspedes. Before his final decision to go to Oakland.
And it deals with Miami. When I found out about Céspedes during a daily baseball conversation I hold with a friend, I insisted that he would NOT sign with Miami. Not now anyway, I said.
Can you imagine the pressure this guy would be under… to get involved on the Cuba issue with some of our resident dinosaurs in this city? And what if, I added, this guy does not necessarily feel the way these persons here expect him to feel about the island? What does he do then? Bite his tongue and go with the flow?
Another thing I considered, also. Cuba is rapidly changing. There are new ways of looking at old problems. Over time, why couldn’t a Céspedes play ball here and visit Cuba whenever he feels like it. Or even spend part of the year there, if that’s what he wants…
Miami, and our attitude toward Cuba, would make that impossible. And for that reason, this city of ours has been losing a great deal of talent. Sometimes… more important talent than a baseball player’s.
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