OAKLAND, Calif. — After a winter of rebuilding, the Athletics were the surprise winner for Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes and the A's agreed to a $36 million, four-year contract — quite a splash for the low-revenue franchise that traded away several key faces this offseason.
Agent Adam Katz confirmed Monday the slugging outfielder had reached agreement on a deal, with details still to be finalized. This is a significant move for Oakland, which wanted to add punch to a lineup that was 12th in the AL in runs last season.
Cespedes, 26, will earn $6.5 million this year, $8.5 million in 2013 and $10.5 million in each of the final two seasons. He can become a free agent at the end of the contract, the biggest for a Cuban defector. Cespedes' deal tops Jose Contreras' $32 million, four-year contract with the Yankees before the 2003 season.
The A's expect Cespedes to secure his P1 visa in the next couple of weeks, travel to the team's Arizona spring training site to take his physical and be ready to start training shortly thereafter.
The team also still has interest in formerly retired slugger Manny Ramirez. The A's, hoping to be given clearance from Major League Baseball to relocate to San Jose and construct a new ballpark, have been in rebuilding mode this offseason. Oakland traded starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill and also All-Star closer Andrew Bailey.
Cespedes toured the Miami Marlins' new downtown ballpark Wednesday and appeared to have other suitors, as well. In a surprising move, it was the A's who made a splash and outbid some big-spending clubs.
CUBANS TO CUBS: The Cubs appear close to landing a second major Cuban free agent.
Outfielder Jorge Soler, 19, is close to signing with Chicago, according to multiple reports from the Dominican Republic, where Soler is staying.
Pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, also 19, was signed earlier, although the Cubs have not announced it. Soler is waiting for official clearance from MLB before being declared a free agent, although he can be signed.
BURNETT TALKS: The Yankees and Pirates have made progress toward a trade that would send much-maligned right-hander A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh would pay at least $10 million of the $33 million Burnett is owed in the final two seasons of his $82.5 million, five-year contract. The exact amount of money involved in the trade depends on the quality of the prospects the Yankees would receive.
Burnett, 35, has struggled to a 34-35 record and 4.79 ERA during three seasons with New York.
In other Pirates news, first baseman/outfielder Dmitri Young worked out in his bid to return to baseball. Young, 38, hasn't played in the majors since 2008.
BLUE JAYS: Top right-handed setup man Casey Janssen, 30, avoided salary arbitration, agreeing on a $5.9 million, two-year contract.
INDIANS: Right-hander Jon Garland, 32, a 12-year veteran coming off July shoulder surgery, agreed to a minor-league contract.
METS: Left-hander Johan Santana, 32, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010, will throw off a mound Thursday or Friday in Port St. Lucie.
RED SOX: All-Star DH David Ortiz, 36, avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $14,575,000.