Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes arrived at Miami International Airport this morning ahead of a meeting with top Marlins brass. The Marlins have made no secret of their desire to land the Cuban slugger, and now Cespedes is returning the love.
"It would be good [to play here]," Cespedes said while briefly addressing the media. "There are a lot of Cubans and they would support me a lot. Hopefully I can play for the Marlins."
Dubbed by Baseball Prospectus as "arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation," Cespedes was the star of the national team but defected to the Dominican Republic over the summer and was recently granted free-agent status by Major League Baseball. Several teams are expected to court the center fielder, but Miami is by far the favorite.
The Marlins boast a big new ballpark and have already made several stunning signings this off-season, but none may energize the local Cuban community like that of Cespedes, and Cespedes certainly wouldn't mind playing for fans who appreciate his story.
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"It is too early to speak about that, but there is no doubt that I would like to play in front of so many Cubans in Miami," Cespedes said, according to the Miami Herald. "Here, I would get [the Cubans'] support, and that genuine support is very important. But there are things that are out of my control and are best kept with my attorneys.
"I am very happy to be in this country, and I will not deny that I would like to play for the Marlins."
Cespedes and his agent, Adam Katz, are expected to meet with the Marlins as early as today, and several MLB sources say the Marlins are the easy frontrunner. However, the slugger must be cleared by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can officially sign a contract.