One down, two to go.
While Gerardo Concepcion may be the least glamorous of the three big name prospects coming out of Cuba this Winter (together with Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler), the Cubs are undoubtedly pleased to have landed the first one of the three to sign. News of the Cubs signing the lefty pitcher comes from Jorge Ebro, who says only that the deal is a “multimillion” one, but that details will be coming soon.
The 18-year-old was the rookie of the year at the highest level of professional baseball in Cuba last year before defecting, and becoming a free agent two weeks ago. The Cubs were one of his heaviest pursuers, but they had competition from as many as 10 other teams.
Concepcion is a true prospect, who will obviously need any number of years in the minor leagues before he could make an impact in the bigs. Most see him as a highly polished starting pitching with the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the Major Leagues. Obviously we’ll have much more on the pitcher as it becomes available, but it’s fair to say that he’s at least a top 15 prospect, and probably approaching the top 10 in the system. Indeed, Kevin Goldstein says he’d slot Concepcion in at number 6.
This signing is great news.
UPDATE: Enrique Rojas cites a source who tells him the signing for a “$7 million contract.” That’s just a hair North of what I would have expected in a bonus for Concepcion, but, at the same time, I expected it to be higher than I expected (if that makes sense) given the impending CBA limitations on international spending. Teams were going to spend aggressively. Unreported at this point is whether that $7 million “contract” is simply the signing bonus, or if Concepcion is getting some kind of actual, structured contract. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
UPDATE II: I asked Enrique Rojas if it was a Major League deal and he said that it was. That would mean Concepcion would go on the 40-man roster right away (unless there are some special circumstances of which I’m not aware), which would mean the Cubs have to clear up another spot (and would have to carry Concepcion on the 40-man for a long time).
UPDATE III: Another side effect of a Major League deal – again, assuming it’s not some kind of anomaly – is that Concepcion would be using an option year each season he’s on the 40-man but not called up to the bigs. Without getting into a convoluted discussion of options, that would mean the Cubs would *have* to call Concepcion up within three years (possibly four, if he spends his entire first year at A-ball), or subject him to waivers. He would be just 21 or 22 at that time.