KNEE-JERK REACTION: YOENIS CESPEDES IN OAKLAND

There are special moments for thoughtful reflection about new developments with the Oakland A’s … and then there are moments like these where I only have time for a quick post.

 In an offseason full of disappointment and frustration for A’s fans, today brought a pleasant surprise: The team signed power hitting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a 4-year, $36 million deal.

The 26-year-old should settle into the middle of Oakland’s order relatively soon and provide some much-needed power through the duration of his contract.  In a winter full of notable departures such as the loss of free agent outfielder Josh Willingham and the trades of Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey it’s nice to see the A’s grab some favorable headlines by adding a high-profile player when no one expected it.

Would I have preferred to see general manager Billy Beane snag Jorge Soler?  Absolutely.  He’s younger than Cespedes and probably has a higher ceiling which makes him a better fit for a team trying to set itself up for long-term success.  The drawback to Cespedes is that if the A’s ever land in San Jose he’ll be a 30-year-old on the verge of free agency.  Right when the team is theoretically in position to finally enjoy a long, well-planned run of prosperity Cespedes may be ready to take his services elsewhere.

That’s a slightly disappointing thought but it’s also getting way ahead of things.  For the moment I want to enjoy the fact that the A’s made a big splash today.  I also want to enjoy the idea of a productive outfield of Grant Green, Michael Choice, and Cespedes in place for several years starting as soon as the end of this season.

A franchise that looked doomed to losing for the next few years could actually jump back into contention in less than a year if the young pitching acquired in trades over the offseason comes together in a hurry.  If anyone can quickly build a collection of young pitchers into aces it’s pitching coach Curt Young.

Who knows, maybe Green heads back to the infield now that Oakland has a glut of young outfielders.  The franchise needs a young third baseman and maybe that’s where Green’s future lies.  Considering the fact this his glove at shortstop was so bad that he was shifted to center field makes me doubt he could cut it at the hot corner but it’s not impossible to see the A’s deliver a challenge to the former first-round pick.

Cespedes stirs up a lot of tantalizing questions for the team.  Where does his signing leave players like Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Collin Cowgill, Michael Taylor, Jermaine Mitchell, and Chris Carter?  Something has to give and it should be interesting to see who stays, who goes and who comes back in any trade.

There’s a lot more hope and excitement in the air for the A’s now than there was a few hours ago thanks to the Cespedes signing and it’s a welcome break from nonstop trades and ballpark situation that remains trapped in limbo.

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