Viciedo helps White Sox in push for Cuban pair
Countryman says Cespedes, Soler would be 'great fit' in Chicago
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com | 01/17/12 7:54 PM EST
CHICAGO -- Dayan Viciedo didn't need any pushing or prodding from the White Sox to reach out to Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, a pair of Cuban defectors who soon should be highly coveted free agents.
"There were no phone numbers given to me or anything coming from the organization," Viciedo said through manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda during a Tuesday afternoon conference call. "It's me reaching out to my fellow Cubans and wishing the best for them.
"They aren't signed yet, and I can't tell them which way to go. I can give them advice because it's a familiar situation for me. And I can tell them how much I would enjoy having them on this team and how good this organization really is. It would be a great fit if they came over and joined us."
Both Cespedes, 26, and Soler, 19, have yet to establish Dominican Republic residency and must accomplish that task before being able to petition Major League Baseball to join the free-agency process. Viciedo is more familiar with Soler because of their ages, and the young outfielder has been projected as needing some Minor League time upon signing, much like "the Cuban Tank" went through over the past three seasons.
White Sox shortstop and fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez, 30, has greater knowledge of the five-tool potential possessed by Cespedes. But Viciedo certainly is aware of Cespedes' ability.
"Cespedes is definitely ready for the Major Leagues," Viciedo said. "Everything I heard about his game is on par for his playing. Being a little bit older, he has the experience to come in and play right away."
During an interview with the Associated Press before his recent Dominican Winter League debut, Cespedes said that the Cubs, Marlins, Tigers, White Sox, Indians and Orioles had shown the most interest in him to date. Of course, that wouldn't stop other teams from ramping up their efforts once the free agency becomes official.
Having Ramirez and Viciedo, not to mention Jose Contreras and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez being part of the 2005 World Series championship squad, establishes a Cuban connection for the White Sox. But the White Sox might not be able to spend in the area where Cespedes eventually commands, and Cespedes and Soler have different representation from Ramirez and Viciedo.
Detroit also could boost its pursuit of Cespedes with Tuesday's news of Victor Martinez likely being out for the 2012 season after tearing his left ACL during a workout last week. Ultimately, the White Sox might need a more serious Viciedo and Ramirez recruiting pitch to add on either of these Cuban prospects.