A's reach deal with Cuban star on 4-year, US$36 mil. deal

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

OAKLAND, California -- Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes has agreed to a four-year deal worth US$36 million with the Oakland A's, the largest U.S. deal ever for a Cuban, Major League Baseball's website reported on Monday.

Cespedes, a 26-year-old outfielder who spent eight seasons with Granma of the Cuban league before defecting from his communist homeland last year, was an all-tournament player for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The deal remains incomplete pending a physical exam expected to take place later this week.

Oakland had lost out to other clubs for recent Cuban free agents Aroldis Chapman and Alexei Ramirez but this time outbid several clubs, including the Miami Marlins, who reportedly offered a six-year deal for similar money.

Cespedes smashed 33 home runs, batted .333 and drove in 99 runs over 90 games in the 2010-2011 season and hit .458 in six games for Cuba in the 2009 Classic against Major League Baseball talent.

Cespedes was granted temporary residence in the Dominican Republic last week and visited Miami last week after being granted a travel visa.

A typical path for Cubans to the major leagues is to avoid coming to the United States, where his rights would be allocated by draft rather than in free agent bidding.

Major League Baseball declared Cespedes a free agent last month and he was recently granted clearance by the U.S. Treasury Department to sign a deal.

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