The Orioles aren't ready to drop out of the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes. They may not be the favorites to sign the Cuban outfielder, but they're still in play.
I was told this afternoon that they're still interested in Cespedes despite his struggles in the Dominican Winter League, where he collected only five hits and struck out 10 times in 35 at-bats. They'd rather focus on the .333 average, 33 homers and 99 RBIs he totaled with the Cuban National Team in 2010-11.
They're also referring back to their reports from the workouts they attended last month. The tools are there.
A contingent that included manager Buck Showalter, executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira, director of international operations David Stockstill, Dominican-based scout Carlos Bernhardt and new bullpen coach Bill Castro watched Cespedes in the Dominican Republic the weekend after the Winter Meetings. He conducted a private workout for them during the second day.
There's a chance that they'll take another look at Cespedes next week, assuming that he's still unsigned. He didn't officially become a free agent until yesterday after establishing residency in the Dominican.
As I wrote this morning, some scouts question whether he's ready for the majors.
The Orioles reportedly are among six teams expressing the most interest in Cespedes. The Marlins, White Sox, Cubs, Tigers and Indians are the others.
A report from CBSSports.com suggests that the Tigers retain interest despite signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. The assumption had been that they'd back out.
The Marlins want Cespedes, but he may not want them, which would certainly work in the Orioles' favor.
Anyway, I wouldn't dismiss the Orioles yet, since they haven't dismissed Cespedes.