Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins offseason spending spree may have one last hurrah left in it after Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes was granted a visitor’s visa to meet with the Marlins Wednesday.
Cespedes was declared an unrestricted free agent last month and could be pursued by multiple teams before spring training starts.
But, he can’t officially sign with a team until he’s cleared by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to MLB.com.
The Marlins interest in Cespedes is two-fold. First, his highlight videos have generated quite a buzz and he could fill a void in the outfield.
But second and just as important, he would be a marketing coup for the Marlins in the heavily Cuban community in Miami.
But, there’s still a question of just how much Cespedes can offer at the Major League level. He went 5-35 with a home run and 10 strikeouts in winter baseball in the Dominican Republic.
In Cuban ball last season, he hit .333 with 33 home runs and 99 RBI’s in 90 games. He was also Cuba’s starting center fielder during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Still, the Marlins have said they would aggressively pursue signing Cespedes. Early contract rumors centered around $60 million but those numbers have come down dramatically in recent weeks.
He will still command a big contract, even though he may not start the year in the big leagues.