It was Monday that the Oakland Athletics came out of nowhere to sign Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year contract worth $36 million. I mean, I'm sure Cespedes kind of saw it coming, since he was involved and made his own decision, but most everybody else figured that Cespedes would end up with the Miami Marlins. Or if he didn't end up with the Miami Marlins, he'd end up with a bigger spender than the A's.
But he signed with the A's. The toolsy, athletic Cuban outfielder signed with the A's. And while Cespedes isn't the sort of player you imagine when you think about Moneyball (the book), Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus argues that Cespedes is a Moneyball-style addition:
Once you start hearing those superlatives, Cespedes’ price tag starts to sound more reasonable. So what if he’s never played in the States? So what if, at age 26, he’s probably already reached his physical prime? If he fulfills that potential and becomes a star, or even gets most of the way there, he’ll be more than worth the money. Sure, $9 million a year is a lot for the A’s. But it’s not all that much out in the wide world of free agent outfielders. It’s Michael Cuddyer money. Actually, it’s less than Cuddyer money—the Rockies will pay Cuddyer $10.5 million per year, only for three seasons instead of four. Considering Cespedes is over six years younger than Cuddyer, that extra year seems like a small price to pay.
That makes this a Moneyball move [...]
If you don't think that Oakland signing Yoenis Cespedes is a Moneyball move on account of his physical profile, congratulations, you are part of an embarrassingly still large group of people who have zero understanding of the point. I don't even know why those people read books. What do they get out of those books? Probably not what they're supposed to get out of those books.