Outfielder reportedly looking to parlay career year into at least $100 million deal
By Jamal Collier
The market for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has developed slowly throughout the offseason, but it appears to finally be taking shape.
The White Sox and Orioles have emerged as the favorites to sign Cespedes, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez. The Angels, Giants and Rangers are all reportedly monitoring the situation as well.
Cespedes, 30, has been reportedly seeking a six-year deal or at least a deal worth more than $100 million after a career year in 2015. He batted .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs in 159 games with the Tigers and Mets. CBS Sports reported last week that a reunion with the Mets is unlikely, as they had turned their sights toward a complementary fifth outfielder instead.
At times, Cespedes seemingly single-handedly carried New York's offense after being traded midseason, which is the kind of turnaround the White Sox are seeking after finishing with the fewest runs, lowest slugging percentage and lowest OPS in the American League. Chicago is still trying to win now to take advantage of the fact that Jose Abreu and Chris Sale are in their prime. The club already made a few upgrades to address the issue, most notably acquiring Todd Frazier from the Reds earlier this month.
The Orioles lacked production from their corner outfield positions in 2015, and they could still potentially lose Chris Davis -- and his 47 home runs and 146 OPS+ -- to free agency. Baltimore badly needs another bat in the middle of the order, and it has been linked to several free-agent outfielders still on the market.
The Angels' left fielders only posted a .592 OPS last season, not only the lowest in baseball but the fourth lowest in MLB history. However, owner Arte Moreno recently said the club would "probably be out" on big-name free agents such as Cespedes to fill that role.
Injuries have given the Giants some uncertainty in the outfield, after Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence spent most of last season on the shelf. San Francisco has already spent big on two free-agent starting pitchers -- Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija -- but it could be tempted to go after Cespedes as well if the price drops.
While the Rangers had not been one of the teams heavily linked to Cespedes in the past, perhaps they have concerns about Josh Hamilton and Shin-Soo Choo -- both of whom are over 30 and have missed significant time in the past two years -- staying healthy again next season.
Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.