The legend of Cespedes begins
Scouting buzz has dozens of clubs interested in Cuban star
The video made Yoenis Cespedes an instant cult figure late Sunday night. By noon ET on Monday, the video had been pulled down, but make no mistake: This is not Sidd Finch. This dude is real -- very real. He's 26 years old with a 37-inch vertical and a 6.35 time in the 60-yard dash, ungodly power and the focus of about two dozen Major League teams that have been in constant contact with his agent, Adam Katz, for weeks.
Katz has represented several Cuban players in the past, including Rey Ordonez -- but no one like this. As Cespedes will be trying to establish his residency in the Dominican Republic in the coming days and eventually be cleared by Major League Baseball, teams have been all over him. The Marlins are flying to the Dominican with owner Jeffrey Loria, club president David Samson, general manager Larry Beinfest, special assistant Tony Perez and manager Ozzie Guillen.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has had a scout with Cespedes. The Yankees have made it clear that they are interested. So have the Red Sox, whom one source said are "sending everyone" to the Dominican. Toronto will be in. Texas, too. Several small-market teams have let Katz know they will be in, including Pittsburgh, Oakland and Cleveland.
It is expected that Katz will inform teams that Cespedes isn't just another Cuban free agent -- he is a free agent, period. Where that leads could be well above the $30 million that Aroldis Chapman got from the Reds.
Exactly how Cespedes' .333 average in Cuba and record 33 homers would translate to the Major Leagues isn't known. But he is a center fielder with five tools, and it isn't unreasonable to expect that teams will offer a $60 million, five-year contract similar to the one Aaron Rowand signed with the Giants in December 2007.
Sidd Finch didn't get the money. Cespedes will. A lot of money. And the cult will multiply by the time he gets to Spring Training.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.