OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- After a winter of rebuilding, the Oakland Athletics were the surprise winner for Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes and the A's have agreed to a $36 million, four-year contract - quite a splash for the low-budget franchise that traded away several key faces this offseason.
Agent Adam Katz confirmed Monday the slugging outfielder had reached agreement on a deal, with details still to be finalized. This is a significant move for Oakland, which wanted to add a steady hitter.
Cespedes will earn $6.5 million this year, $8.5 million in 2013 and $10.5 million in each of the final two seasons. He can become a free agent at the end of the contract, which is the highest for a Cuban defector. Cespedes' deal tops Jose Contreras' $32 million, four-year contract with the Yankees before the 2003 season.
The A's expect Cespedes to secure his P1 visa in the next couple of weeks, travel to the team's Arizona spring training site to take his physical and be ready to start training shortly thereafter. The team also still has interest in slugger Manny Ramirez. The A's, hoping to be given clearance from Major League Baseball to relocate to San Jose and construct a new ballpark, have been in rebuilding mode this offseason. Oakland traded starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill and also All-Star closer Andrew Bailey.
Cespedes toured the Miami Marlins' new downtown ballpark last Wednesday, and appeared to have other suitors, as well. In a surprising move, it was the A's who made a splash and outbid some big-spending clubs.
"You don't land everybody you want to land. But I think we've been aggressive," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "We're really happy with the way the club looks. You always have a sense of disappointment when you're trying to either trade for or sign a player. It's not the first time and won't be the last. We would certainly wish him well."
Cespedes played for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and is projected to be ready for the majors. Cespedes said six teams were interested in signing him: the Marlins, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs and White Sox.
Major League Baseball said Monday it has been told by Cespedes' agent that he has obtained an unblocking license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control - another key step to him signing.
In January, Cespedes' representatives announced he had established legal residency in the Dominican Republic, the final hurdle to him becoming a free agent. MLB then had to receive proof of residency before clubs were notified of his status as a free agent.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the agreement.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.