The Washington Nationals are no longer interested in acquiring Cuban import Yeonis Cespedes, according to Bill Ladson of Nationals.com.
"In other news, the Nationals are out of the Cespedes sweepstakes, according to a baseball source. On Friday, it was reported by the Associated Press that the Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Indians and Tigers have the most interest in the 26-year-old Cuban.
The Nationals believes that Cespedes is best suited as a corner outfielder, and they already have Morse, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper as viable options for the corner spots."
Chalk this up to good scouting by the Nationals organization. The team gave Cespedes a good, long, and hard look, perhaps more so than any other team, and in the end they decided that he wouldn't be a good fit for their roster. If their scouting report holds true, then Mike Rizzo made the right decision here to not chase after another corner outfielder, as they are log-jammed there at the major league level.
To be honest, the news that the Nats wont get into a bidding war for Cespedes is a bit of a relief on this end. I generally get the feeling that players from Cuba are often given almost mythical reputations simply because we know just so little about them. I think it's just a really sexy idea to bring in some hidden talent from a foreign land that will change the course of your franchise, but how often does that ever really work out. I liken it to the European player phenomenon in the NBA. I just don't' know how teams go ahead and draft players that have played in league's where their success simply doesn't translate to the NBA. I think front-offices in all sports are just attracted to the unknown.
We have also seen in the past five years or so a lack of MLB readiness by players who signed after defecting Cuba. Aroldis Chapman is the perfect example. The Reds paid $30.25 million to acquire him, and while he has been exciting at times, he has served as nothing more than a middle reliever at the Major League level thus far. The Reds are hoping he can become a starting pitcher this season, but his control issues may make it difficult for him to make the transition. It's hard to believe that anyone would pay $30 million for Chapman today.
Nats fans, of course, have to look no further than Yunesky Maya to understand the disappointment that can come from overvaluing a foreign import. It was believed that Maya was one of the best pitchers in Cuba when Washington signed him to a four-year deal. It now seems Washington has all but given up on him.