The First Yoel(kis)

Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

News broke on Twitter that Yoelkis (Yoelki/Yoelqui) Céspedes, the younger half-sibling of Yoenis, hitter of Cuban baseballs, is likely to sign with the White Sox.

Per baseball reference, in 262 games at various levels of play while before he defected, Céspedes the younger hit .283 with a .753 OPS, 42 doubles and only 12 homers, 164 strikeouts with 42 walks. But, following his defection he appeared to have bulked up and

I’m sorry, did he bulk up after he defected from the Can-Am? Yes, that could sound a red flag as going from skinny fleet-footed toolsy guy to bulked up slugger sounds very 1990’s. But the change from 185 as he was listed on the Cuban National Team and the reported 205 that he weighed heading into the July 2020 signing period happened over a decent amount of time, at least since June 2019. I’ve gained 30 lbs. since Thanksgiving (though I should maybe get that checked).

What are the red flags, if any? He’s not a finished product. He looks like his brother in the batter’s box but hasn’t shown on the field what his new swing and physique bring to the table. He also hasn’t played in a while, given the 2020 cancellations. So he’s not immediate help. He’s also Yoenis’ brother, which hopefully the woes that have begotten the erstwhile Mets slugger are not indicative of some familial curse.

What are the green flags? He legitimately looks the part and has had international success, all before age 22. He has demonstrated 5-tool potential. The Sox have a great history of bring Cuban players along, including the group they currently have in place. Besides Oscar Luis Colás, he’s the international pool’s most wanted.

If the Sox are getting a top international prospect that seems to just be growing into the role of major league player (literally and figuratively), Merry Christmas and Happy (belated) Hanukkah to us.

But, as has been pointed out due to some trading of international pool money, Colás will be pouring out elsewhere. So maybe the stockings aren’t as stuffed as they could be, because again the Sox have a budget issue…can we get Rick a very large credit card with an intro APR to shop with?

A Christmas List For Rick (with cheap options…sigh)

Look, Rick, we get it. Money is tight from 2020 being that kinda year, we’re all thrown off by the days running into each other, so maybe some last second shopping is forgivable. Assuming that you’re talking holiday presents. Why not combine the holidays with some timely start of the season gifts?

Look, we appreciate that you went in early and got deals on Eaton and Lynn. Frugal move. Personally, I bought a nosehair trimmer/drone remote on Cyber Monday, a steal for what I paid. My wife and kids will be so excited the morning of the 25th. Heck, I might let them peak early.

Why wait until the season’s upon us to finish shopping when the Season’s upon us? Let’s fill the stockings. The white ones. Here’s the wishlist and some backups if the stores run out of the Trevor Bauers and George Springers that are hot this year.

A DH: Every cool kid wants an Ozuna or a Cruz, or even a Brantley. I know some of them claim they are better played on a different platform, like OF, but we know what we want. Some kids prefer Schwarber or Rosario, and they might come a little cheaper. If you really want to hit the Dollar Section there’s a Renato Núñez who has 43 bombs over the past two seasons but couldn’t catch a cold in the field. But why wait until it’s Jay Bruce and Jake Lamb? Go out now and get us a bat, man!

A STARTING PITCHER: I know you got us one, but we really want two. We promise we’ll take care of them both!! Remember José Quintana? I know we had one but can we get another one? I mean, if you really want us to squeal with glee it would be Trevor Bauer, but we understand that James Paxton is more in line with what you have to spend, even if he is used. At least a Taijuan Walker, who seemed to be fully back from Tommy John last year and has an upside worth taking a flyer on without being crushed if he doesn’t pan out. But there’s no reason to wait until there’s nothing but Tyson Ross on the shelves. Supplies are limited!

A CLOSER: The Liam that’s out there is soooo dreamy with that fastball and low ERA. But he hasn’t done it for very long, so if we have to stick with an Alex Colomé that’s cool. Some people even prefer a Shane Greene. There’s an Archie Bradley that might be overrated, and a Kirby Yates but I hear that there might be some build issues with that one. It would be a mistake to hesitate lest you have only a Wade Davis left. Shop now for saves!

Wither the Trade Market

I know Hahn already pulled off one deal and backed off another, getting Lance Lynn and shying away from the price for Sonny Gray. There are still holes to fill and evidently the free agent market isn’t that enticing based on the lack of movement. But if trades are the way, can the Sox actually make a trade right now..? Can anyone? There’s been a handful of notable deals, like 4-5 this offseason. And the Sox had maybe the biggest.

There are always teams on the rebuild that will part with a useful guy for the right price, teams need to shed salary and teams get themselves into a surplus. Take the Reds and Rays, who each have five OF that they would consider starters, or the Rockies who have 9 starting pitchers listed. With no minor league stats from 2020 the book on prospects makes it harder to sell them, and unless you have a surplus on the big league roster it’ll take a sacrifice in one area to fill another. And quality in requires quality out, so if you were pissed about Dane Dunning for Lance Lynn you’ll positively lose bowel control over the price of Blake Snell.

Anyone looking to trade Vaughn or Kopech? Who besides maybe Adam Engel and Danny Mendick is expendable off the bigs roster? Do Adolfo, Collins, Stiever, Sheets, or Rutherford have enough value to fill a hole better than the free agent market? It could be too hard for the Sox to really make a deal except where there’s a clear rebuild or where they can fill a hole there to plug a hole here. Even then, what are we talking about that isn’t on the streets? Why am I asking so many questions? I don’t have that many answers.

As fans we overestimate the value of prospects (especially after a full rebuild) but the reality is that the trade market is stagnant because teams don’t know what they have, or what each other has after a weird 2020. There also aren’t a lot of really intriguing names in the rumor mill that haven’t been there before, like Nolan Arenado who would require a big return. The ones that could be had for what fans would be ok parting with have some doppelgängers on the market.

There are always some trade musings that tumble through my mind like so many dog droppings down a sloped lawn, but really none of them make sense to me.

  1. Trading Stiever and/or Danny Mendick to the Giants for Brandon Belt. The Giants are in between and having an infielder and/or controllable starter while clearing space for Buster Posey at 1B. Still doesn’t seem worth it to either team.
  2. Stiever and Lopez to the Angels for Shoehei Ohtani. Yeah, the Angels have no starters and multiple DH candidates, but they wouldn’t do this. Maybe Lopez for Jared Walsh?
  3. Engel and Mendick to the Brewers for Lorenzo Cain. Would they? He’d possibly be an upgrade over Engel as a DH/Of…? I thought of this pre-Eaton.
  4. Zack Collins and a pitcher to the Yankees for Miguel Andújar. Trading blocked C for blocked DH, and the Yankees need to have given up on a guy that seemed like a cornerstone 2 years back.

Maybe my brain tries to hard to rig this like Fantasy Baseball where a little quantity can make up for quality. Maybe I’m not good at this. Suspicion being just what it is, that trades aren’t being floated much makes it seem like there just isn’t a good feel for the depth out there, or the free agent market is much the same as what teams have available.

A Lineup’s worth of Things about the Sox that worry me, an ongoing list:

  1. Pitching health. Especially Giolito. He’s important, man.
  2. Walls and Nets vs. Eloy. Tarps are looking suspicious too.
  3. Adam Eaton’s mouth. Speak softly and carry a big stick.
  4. TA’s batting average. It feels too good the last two seasons.
  5. Is the bullpen Cotts and Politte circa ’05 or just tall and throw hard?
  6. Leury Garcia, DH
  7. Lance Lynn is David Wells.
  8. Trading Vaughn for immediate help.
  9. Not trading Vaughn for immediate help.
  10. And warming up in the pen: counting Nick Madrigal’s extra base hits on two limbs.

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