Yoenis Cespedes spoke through an interpreter with English-speaking media for the first time this spring on Sunday. As MLive.com’s Chris Iott reports, Cespedes indicated that he’d be open to playing with the Tigers beyond 2015. The outfielder said, "I would like to be in a Tigers uniform for many years. It's a good team now and it will be for many years to come. Every major league player wants a ring, and with this team, you have a really good chance."
Cespedes, 29, is entering the last year of a four-year, $36 million deal signed with the Athletics in February 2012. He made his first All-Star team last season, finishing with a combined 22 home runs and 100 RBI in 645 plate appearances between the Athletics and Red Sox.
While no one doubts Cespedes’ ability to be productive in 2015, it’s what he’ll be able to do beyond that -- when he will enter his 30’s – which causes some hesitancy. Typically, power hitting corner outfielders with subpar plate discipline don’t age well.
For the Tigers, though, they could have two outfield spots locked up if they were to sign Cespedes to a multi-year deal. J.D. Martinez is eligible for his second and third years of arbitration going into 2016 and ’17 before he will become eligible for free agency. Additionally, prospect Steven Moya should join the outfield with a solid showing at Triple-A this season. Moya hit 35 home runs with 105 RBI at Double-A Erie last season. A Cespedes-Moya-Martinez outfield would certainly be productive for at least the initial couple of years.
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White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon is expected to take Chris Sale’s spot in the rotation during Cactus League games this spring, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports, citing pitching coach Don Cooper. Sale suffered an avulsion fracture in his right foot and will be out for three weeks.
Rodon, 22, was taken by the White Sox third overall in the 2014 draft. He ascended through their minor league system quickly, reaching Triple-A for three starts in June. In 24 1/3 total innings in the minors last season, Rodon compiled a 2.96 ERA with a 38/13 K/BB ratio. Though the White Sox will be watching Rodon closely, he won’t be in the club’s starting rotation on Opening Day. However, depending on how lucky or unlucky the White Sox are in terms of pitching staff health and Rodon’s performance with Triple-A Charlotte, the left-hander could make his major league debut in the first half of the season.
Garrett Richards (knee) expected to miss first 2-3 weeks of the regular season
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that pitcher Garrett Richards, recovering from surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon in his left knee suffered last August, won’t be ready for the start of the season. Per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Scioscia said, “I think he’s transitioning, getting close to what a regular spring training would be. They haven’t fully taken all the reins off him, but you can kind of project. He’s going to be two or three weeks behind some guys. You get a window to where you can expect him during the season.”
Richards, 26, has already thrown bullpens and participated in pitcher fielding drills, so things are otherwise going well for the right-hander. He put himself on the map last season with a 2.61 ERA and a 164/51 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Jose Fernandez throws off the mound for the first time
Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez threw 15 pitches – all fastballs – off of a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. Fernandez threw 10 warm-up pitches before tossing 15 fastballs to bullpen coordinator Jeff Urgelles while pitching coach Chuck Hernandez monitored.
Though Fernandez said the velocity on his pitches was only 50-55 percent, he also said that everything felt “really, really normal.” Fernandez is expected to rejoin the Marlins as early as June 15, though July may be a more realistic target.
Bryce Harper says he has to “step up”
By no means was Bryce Harper unproductive last season, batting .273/.344/.423 slash line with 13 home runs and 32 RBI in 395 plate appearances. But he spent considerable time on the disabled list with a torn UCL in his thumb suffered on a slide into third base. He has still yet to cross the 600 PA threshold in three major league seasons. Further, his numbers were down from his 2013 output – clearly, he can be better.
Harper himself thinks he needs to “step up” as MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reported on Sunday. Harper said, “After losing LaRoche, I have to step up a little bit. I have to do what I need to do. Our pitching is going to take us to the top, hopefully, but we still have to have offense. We have to do the things we need to do. I’m ready to go. I’ll be feeling good.”
Though he posted the fifth-highest adjusted OPS (also known as OPS+) among Nationals regulars last season, Harper is expected to hit right in the middle of his club’s lineup in 2015. With on-base machines Denard Span, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon hitting in front of him, he’ll have plenty of opportunities for RBI and the Nationals’ deep lineup should allow him to get into the 80-90 runs scored range. If he can bump his power back up to 2012-13 levels, Harper should carry considerable fantasy value this season.