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Cuban Import?

Yoenis Cespedes has recently been declared a free agent. We've already seen so-called "surprise" teams land Albert Pujols (Angels) and Prince Fielder (Tigers) this offseason, could a surprise team sign Yoenis Cespedes? He's been linked to the Marlins, Yankees, Blue Jays among others, but should the Astros make a run at him?

At first brush, Houston seems like an illogical destination for such a player. But Cespedes is only 26 and will still be in his prime in 2014 and 2015 when the Astros should be much improved. Also, Houston will have over $20 million coming off the books after 2012 once the contracts of Carlos Lee and Brandon Lyon expire. Additionally, Houston will be needing an extra hitter starting next year with the impending move to the junior circuit.

I looked back at some recent Cuban free agents, and their initial contracts are not as extreme as you might imagine. Dayan Viciedo agreed to a four year $10M deal with the Chicago White Sox in December 2008 (with a $4M signing bonus). In January 2010, Aroldis Chapman agreed to a a six year $30.25 deal (with a $16M signing bonus distributed over time). Before the 2008 season, Alexei Ramirez signed a 4-year $6.4M deal. Going back a while, Jose Contreras initially signed a 4-year $32 million contract.

Looking at those past signings it's interesting to see a team like the Reds sneak in there. Now, I don't think the Astros should go crazy. But would a 5-year $30 million deal be out of the question? It's a risky play for sure, but could instantly add a power bat in his prime if it works out. Also, what would the offseason be without rumors and speculation?

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