Yoenis Cespedes will now be represented by Roc Nation Sports. (Getty Images)
Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has changed agents, moving to Roc Nation Sports from Wasserman Media Group. Roc Nation Sports is the same agency that represented Cespedes’ Red Sox teammate, Rusney Castillo, whose $72.5 million deal through 2020 represents the largest guarantee ever to a free agent from Cuba without prior big league experience. As with Castillo and fellow Roc Nation client Robinson Cano, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports will serve as the point of contact for baseball contracts involving Cespedes.
Cespedes has one season left on the four-year, $36 million deal he signed with the Athletics prior to the 2012 season, a deal that was negotiated by Adam Katz of Wasserman and that positioned Cespedes to arrive at free agency after the 2015 season, at an age (he turns 30 in October 2015) when power hitters rarely are available. The contract permits Cespedes relatively unfettered entry into free agency, as it specifies that he will be released after 2015, a procedural move that means that he will not be subject to a qualifying offer — and, accordingly, that a team that signs him in free agency won’t have to give up a draft pick.
Cespedes, who turned 29 on Saturday, has hit .263 with a .316 OBP, .464 slugging mark while averaging 24 homers and 87 RBIs a year in his three big league seasons with the A’s and (following his trade for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes on July 31) Red Sox. He hit .260/.301/.450 with 22 homers and 100 RBIs in 2014, posting a .269/.296/.423 line in Boston. Both his 100 RBIs and his 152 games played in 2014 represented career highs.
Given that Cespedes is one year from free agency, it’s natural to wonder how the agency switch impacts the possibility of the outfielder signing an extension with the Sox. In short: It probably doesn’t.
Cespedes had noted on numerous occasions with the A’s that he looked forward to testing free agent waters. Indeed, when he mentioned in February 2014 to reporters that he would be interested in staying in Oakland beyond his four-year term, the declaration was characterized by reports at the time as a surprise given his previous stance. In the final days of the 2014 season, Cespedes revealed little urgency to sign an extension.
‘I’m still not sure if I want to sign an extension or if I want to be a free agent,’ he said on Sept. 27. ‘It’s too soon.’
The same may be true of the Red Sox, who probably need to gain a better sense of how Cespedes fits into the roster before considering extension talks. Though an impactful defensive outfielder with the A’s, Cespedes looked uncomfortable playing against the Green Monster in left field at Fenway Park, struggling with balls that were hit to the base of the scoreboard. Though the time acquired him with the intention of having him play right, that plan was scrapped for 2014 when he expressed some discomfort with the idea. So, at a time when the Sox have a surplus of outfielders (including Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig), Cespedes could be just as likely to be traded as extended.
GM Ben Cherington suggested that the Sox might be interested in keeping Cespedes beyond the term of his current four-year deal, but expressed little urgency in the matter.
“You know, we’ve really enjoyed having him here in the time that he’s been here. He does a lot of things on the field,” Cherington said on Sept. 29. “He seems to have fit into the clubhouse pretty quickly. And he does sort of provide an element in the middle of the lineup — confident hitter with men on base and all of those things that you see that we can use. It’s just a conversation I think we’ll have at the right time. There’s no specific date we’re planning on having that. So far, we think the relationship is off to a good start.”
Now, if the Sox wish to extend that relationship, they will do so while negotiating with a different team of representatives. Yet the actual likelihood of a deal before the end of 2015 seems unlikely to have been affected.