Both teams have been linked to some of the other big remaining free agent outfielders – Alex Gordon and Justin Upton – but at least for the time being, the two franchises are most-strongly related to Cespedes.
Cespedes, who began the season with the Detroit Tigers, had a big second half with the New York Mets, leading them to a World Series appearance.
Despite his unquestionable talent on the field, Cespedes has been unable to find a permanent home in his four-year career. After spending part of three seasons in Oakland, he has bounced around between three different teams since the 2014 All-Star break.
A player such as Cespedes would definitely solve current issues for both teams.
Baltimore is in desperate need of a power bat, and could use another proven outfielder to go alongside Adam Jones. Cespedes would most likely be the cleanup batter in the lineup, and could play either left or right field.
Newly signed Hyun-soo Kim, another recent addition to Baltimore Mark Trumbo, or Steve Pearce could control the opposite corner outfield spot, depending on Kim’s adjustment to the Majors from the Korean League.
The signing of Cespedes, or Gordon or Upton for that matter, would most likely end all possibilities of Baltimore retaining fellow free agent Chris Davis. He will command around the same contract that was offered to Davis (7 years, $150 MM).
It would also lessen the O’s’ chances of signing one of the top remaining free agent starting pitchers.
With that being said, though, the positives with signing Cespedes should outweigh the negatives.
Like Baltimore, Chicago could use another power bat in its lineup. As a former Tiger, Cespedes is familiar with the White Sox, and the AL Central, especially considering he lost to the AL Central Royals in the World Series.
He would start over either Avisail Garcia or Melky Cabrera, the two corner outfielders for the White Sox in 2015. My guess would be Garcia would be the player to lose playing time due to Cabrera’s big contract.
Chicago could also used help in the pitching rotation, and with the White Sox’ limited spending thus far this offseason, it’s plausible to think they may not be big spenders on more than one big-name free agent.
If I had to guess, I would say out of the two teams Baltimore has the slight advantage in signing Cespedes, however, other teams are in the mix for his services, as well.
Baltimore is in a better position to make the postseason in 2016, for the reasons of having the better team and also for being in a more-winnable division.
However, Baltimore has made a habit over the past few off seasons of being rumored with big-named FAs but unwilling to shell out the money.