The power-hitting outfielder was sleeping at the time of the trade and woke up to learn the club with the best record in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, had sent him to the last-place team in the American League East. He did not play Friday in a 4-3 win over the Yankees, the first game in a three-game set against New York this weekend at Fenway Park. Red Sox manager John Farrell had said the slugger would be available to pinch hit if needed.
Cespedes arrived at Fenway around 5 p.m. ET, and when he met with the media, he had a stern look on his face.
"I feel very happy to be here, to be able to share a part of my career with the Red Sox with such a legendary team," Cespedes said with the help of a translator. "When I was in Cuba, I didn't have this opportunity. In Cuba I obviously wasn't able to watch too many Red Sox games or any major league games, but the legend of Fenway Park precedes itself, and I'm very excited to be here."
In Oakland, Cespedes was hitting cleanup for the A's and helped the AL West leaders to a 66-41 record. The club has a serious chance to contend for the World Series, especially now with Jon Lester in the rotation and Jonny Gomes in the clubhouse. Cespedes now is on a team that entered Friday 12½ games out of first place.
"Oakland in the past three years has turned itself into a winning team, the same way Boston was," he said. "I've become accustomed to playing winning baseball and I think we can achieve the same thing with this team. It's no secret to anybody that this is a great team and it's evident in the amount of World Series they've won here in Boston."
The 28-year-old outfielder has spent his three seasons in the big leagues playing left, center or designated hitter for the A's. He has not played right field, which is where he'll play for the Red Sox.
"In Cuba I played right field a little bit and I pride myself on being able to play the best defense possible at any position, regardless of where it is on the field, so if it is right, I'm going to give it my all wherever I'm put," he said.
One of the intangibles of this deal for both the Red Sox and Cespedes is the fact that he'll get to know and learn from David Ortiz. Cespedes also spent time with fellow Cuban and legendary Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant on Friday evening.
"I feel very fortunate to have David Ortiz as a teammate," he said. "Most of all I think I'll gain a lot of valuable experience from being a teammate of his. I think, as teammates, we'll be able to do a lot of great things here."
Having Cespedes batting behind Ortiz in the lineup will help the Red Sox's offense. In fact, the two could do some serious damage at Fenway Park.
"I know I have some power but I can't predict the amount of home runs I'm going to hit because when I'm up there I'm not looking to hit a home run, I'm just looking to make hard contact," Cespedes said.
Cespedes wasn't the only newcomer to arrive at Fenway on Friday.
The Red Sox also acquired outfielder Allen Craig and pitcher Joe Kelly from the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday in exchange for pitcher John Lackey. On Friday, Craig was in left field and batted fifth for the Red Sox, with a double in his four at-bats. Kelly had yet to arrive.
"I was definitely a little bit surprised to hear the news I was traded," Craig said of the trade. "But I'm really excited to be here and be on this team.
"I feel like I can contribute offense. That's what I've done my entire career and that's what I feel like I'm going to be able to do is to contribute somewhere in the lineup, wherever that is, and just do my thing and drive guys in. That's it, just play the game."
Like Cespedes in Oakland, Craig was playing for a contender in St. Louis, and overnight all that changed.
"To be honest, I really haven't thought that far through it," he said. "I'm excited to be a part of this organization and get to know these guys. Obviously the tradition here is rich, winning the World Series last year. I'm just here to do my part and contribute to another good team."
Last October, Craig was on the losing side of the World Series as the Red Sox celebrated a title with a win over the Cardinals in Game 6 at Fenway Park.
"I'm going to go out on the field here in a little bit and take batting practice and some more memories will probably come back," he said. "It's cool to be on this side of the clubhouse and get to know the guys that I played against last year in the World Series."
Also, Kelly Johnson, who the Red Sox acquired from the Yankees, remains on the disabled list with a groin injury and will be activated Aug. 7.