Revisiting A's signing of Yoenis Céspedes in free agency seven years ago


Exactly seven years ago, the A's made one of their biggest free agent splashes in franchise history. Oakland agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract with 26-year-old Yoenis Céspedes, beating out several other teams for the talented outfielder's services.

After defecting from Cuba the previous summer, Céspedes had drawn major buzz from MLB front offices, thanks in part to a workout video that included a 45-inch box jump and 1,300-pound leg press.

Céspedes' athleticism and natural ability were off the charts and scouts considered him a true five-tool player.


Céspedes lived up to the hype and then some. He hit .292/.356/.505 with 23 home runs, 82 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 2012, finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Mike Trout. Céspedes belted his first career homer in just his second game, off Shawn Kelley at the Tokyo Dome.

Céspedes became a national star during the 2013 Home Run Derby, putting on a superhuman display at Citi Field in New York. He crushed 32 home runs in all, including 17 in the first round, and defeated Bryce Harper in the finals.

Céspedes made his first All-Star Game the following season and won the Home Run Derby for the second straight year, becoming the first player to do so since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 and 1999.

On June 10, 2014, he made arguably the greatest throw in MLB history, launching a 300-foot cannon from just in front of the left field foul pole to nail Howie Kendrick at the plate against the Angels.

The A's Céspedes era came to an end on July 31, 2014 when they surprisingly traded him to Boston for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes.


The Céspedes signing was an overwhelming success. The A's made the postseason in all three years Céspedes was on the team and the Cuban slugger was a major reason why. He quickly became a fan favorite in Oakland and that expanded to the entire country following his thrilling 2013 Home Run Derby performance.

Despite playing less than three seasons in Oakland, Céspedes was still voted by the fans as one of the A's top 50 players of all-time. He has also expressed interest in finishing his career in Oakland.  

Céspedes is proof that you can still add a marquee free agent in February. Of course, this season there are still plenty of stars available, including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Dallas Keuchel.

While those players aren't on the A's radar, they have recently added Brett Anderson, Nick Hundley, and Robbie Grossman, all of whom could make an impact in 2019.

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