4. Yoenis Cespedes
When the Oakland Athletics were the surprise winners of the Yoenis Cespedes Sweepstakes, they acquired far more than the talented outfielder.
That is not to say that Cespedes did not make an immediate impact with the A’s. The incredibly talented Cuban star showed that he could handle the majors virtually immediately, as he went from signing as a free agent to the A’s Opening Day lineup within a month and a half.
In his two and a half years in Oakland, Cespedes was as advertised. He posted a .262/.318/.470 batting line, hitting 66 homers and 72 doubles. He was a part of the 2014 All Star team, and was the key piece sent to Boston for Jon Lester, helping the A’s run to the Wild Card.
But Cespedes was more than that one trade, or those years prior. He set a tone for the A’s organization in international free agency, marking the typically budget conscious franchise as a real player in the market. In subsequent years, they signed the highly regarded Lazaro Armenteros and handed Robert Pauson the second largest signing bonus in the 2019-20 international prospect class. The A’s are also reportedly set to sign prospect Pedro Pineda in the upcoming international signing period.
Yoenis Cespedes was a good player for the Oakland Athletics, but that signing is still paying dividends. By opening the vault for him, the A’s established themselves in the international free agent market going forward.