Offseason Notes for January 26th

“I know it when I see it.” — Justice Potter Stewart

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.

1. Assorted Headlines
2. Prospecting:’s Top-100 Prospects
3. Third Thing: A Video Celebration of Winston Abreu

Assorted Headlines
Cespedes Declared Free Agent by MLB
Major League Baseball has told teams that Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is eligible to negotiate with teams, reports the Associated Press — a day after he (i.e. Cespedes) gained residency in the Dominican Republic. Jackie Moore looked at his resume in the Cuban baseball league a couple weeks ago, noting that, while some park and league adjustments are in order, Cespedes’ power has still profiled as above average. Fielding is the issue: is Cespedes an average center fielder, or corner outfielder? The difference is about 10 runs, or one whole win, every 162 games.

Cincinnati Signs Francis to Minor-League Deal
It’s possible that one of our writers will address this in some depth later today, but it seems reasonable to state now that the Cincinnati Reds have signed left-hander Jeff Francis to a minor-league deal (Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reporting). Francis, who enters his age-31 season, was only slightly worse (106 xFIP-) than league average last season while also throwing 186.0 innings. He’s got excellent control, posting walk rates right around 5% over the last two seasons, while inducing ground balls at a rate of 47% and compiling a 4.6 WAR over that same span.

Baltimore Signs Abreu
The Baltimore Orioles apparently signed right-handed reliever Winston Abreu at some point last week, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Between 2009 and ’10, Abreu (who enters his age-35 season) struck out just shy of 40% of batters faced in over 100 relief innings at Triple-A Durham. Last year, in the Toronto system, that number dropped to 25.3% — although, that was also in the considerably more hostile run environment of Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. In any case, he’s gotten precisely zero major-league innings these last two years. On the plus side, an interested party has made the video you find below.

Prospecting:’s Top-100 Prospects
Jonathan Mayo of has published his top-100 prospect list ahead of the 2012 season.

Here are some notes on same:

• Rays left-hander Matt Moore is Mayo’s first-overall prospect. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are second and third, respectively. It’s very likely that most top-100 lists one finds this preseason will have this different permutations of this triumvirate at the beginning of them.

• The first player whose name I — as one who’s interested, but not expert, in matters prospect — the first player whose name I didn’t recognize is 60th-ranked Rymer Liriano’s. Liriano (who enters is age-21 season) is a toolsy outfielder in the San Diego system, among which team’s prospects Mayo ranks him third. Both John Sickels and our Marc Hulet have Liriano third in the org, as well.

• Boston catcher Ryan Lavarnway, ranked 93rd by Mayo, appears to have a pretty excellent mustache in his profile photo. (File Under: Reportage!)

Third Thing: A Video Celebration of Winston Abreu
To celebrate the signing of 35-year-old journeyman right-hander Winston Abreu by the Baltimore Orioles, we embed this ceremonial video, set to Spanish-language hip-hop music.

We hoped you liked reading Offseason Notes for January 26th by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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