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.

  • Doug

    Right On!!

  • Kyle

    Very nice. Asset-acquisition mode, continue!

    • TWC


  • Cliffy

    Boston will want him as compensation for hiring Theo. They were one of teams after him.

    • loyal100more

      true they were but a signing like this i would have to believe the club lists as off the table. besides did we sign him out from under boston with the sole intention of handing him over for comp? sounds a bit far fetched to me… but who knows the comp issue is quite the mystery after all.

    • cjdubbya

      I know this has probably already been discussed, but I’m A. pulling OT at work (on my 15th hour today – double shifting for the win) and B. too lazy to look it up. If the Cubs land all three, where does this put the system overall in MLB? 10th? 8th?

      • ferrets_bueller

        It might actually put it higher, if they get Soler and Cespedes in particular.  They’d suddenly have 4 of the top 50 prospects in baseball.  (Cespedes, Soler, BJax, Rizzo).

      • Brett

        If they land all three, I can’t see anyone ranking the system lower than 12th, and they’ll probably be around 8 or 9 to most.

      • Kyle

        It really depends on what you like.

        If you like high-minors, polished prospects, I’d say we rank between 14th and 20th.

        If you like depth and high-upside, low-minors guys, maybe as high as 10th.

        • JulioZuleta

          I’m assuming you mean before Cespedes and/or Soler. If we signed both, there’s no way we would be anywhere near 20. IF we sign both, we would have to be top 10. You add a good young pitcher, a Bubba Starling type, and the #7-15 prospect in all of baseball to a system some already ranekd as high as 12. I’d say 7-9 if we got both.

          • Kyle

            Oh, sorry, duh, yeah. That’d be before Soler and Cespedes.

            But this gets back to why I hate these sorts of rankings. Cespedes gives you a huge boost, but he’ll be in the majors and out of your prospect rankings within a few months.

            It seems pointless to rank organizations on young talent but not include recent graduates.

            • JulioZuleta

              Yeah, I know what you mean. To me, the rankings go out the window as soon as the season starts. Guys like Jackson, Rizzo, and Cespedes will no longer be prospects pretty soon. And the low level guys will be movin’ on up.

            • hansman1982

              Or even just have rankings on an organization’s talent below age 24 – that would give you a good idea of where they are headed without hurting a team because a superstar kid got promoted at 20.

      • cjdubbya

        I like the varying opinions. Esp. since the consensus is that it’s light years better than what it was a year ago. Baseball is better when you have inexpensive talent waiting in the wings. Baseball is better when you only have to add a piece here and there.

      • Boogens

        Not trying to sound like a jerk but I really don’t care how high the acquisition(s) of the Cuban ballplayer(s) pushes the ranking of our farm system. It’s akin to winning the attendance battle against the White Sox. So what. The ony thing that matters is winning the World series, not attendance, farm system rankings, post-season awards and the like.
        That being said, I really like the acquisition and the possibility of adding more!

  • Doc Evans

    Whoo! I’m interested in seeing what the exact figures of this deal are. It is nice to see some addition left-handed pitching depth added to the minor league system.

    ITIT (In Theo I Trust)

  • King Jeff

    I think 6 is a little high, but going by Goldstein’s philosophy, it looks like Soler would be top 10 and Cespedes an easy number 1. If they sign both of the others, the minors will be loaded; Hoyer and Epstein would have added 5 or 6 top 20 prospects since the beginning of December.

    • Ced landrum

      Nah I would put him that high

    • TheBeerBaron

      Goldstein put Cespedes behind Jackson at least. If I recall correctly, he would put him 3-4.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Then he must have an oddball view of Cespedes, as nearly all ‘experts’ (using the term lightly) have him as a top 15 prospect in all of baseball, which would easily make him #1 on the Cubs.

        I can under stand putting Soler possibly in that spot, but Cespedes?

      • Norm

        I’m pretty sure Goldstein had Cespedes #1 in Cubs system

        • JulioZuleta

          He did.

          • hansman1982

            Otherwise it would be very odd as I think Goldstein had Cespedes as #12 overall in baseball.

  • Jeremy

    This is great news. Adding a potential 2 or 3 guy is great. Im really high on this guy and hopefully we can see him in the rotation in the next 3-5 years. Now on to Cespedes and Soler!

  • Brett

    So who’s going to be the first big pessimist, and suggest that the reason the Cubs got Concepcion is because they ponied up huge, knowing that they weren’t going to get Cespedes or Soler?

    Not me. :)

    • TWC

      Are there pessimists on this site?  I’ve never seen ’em.

    • Alex

      WAIT for it…… WAIT for it…

    • loyal100more

      well he is the first to be made available right? i think it is proof that our FO is invested in these cuban gentleman, and is going to bid aggressively to take advantage of the talent available. a good sign of how we will deal in the near future?

    • cjdubbya

      I’d say forget that noise, it’s not coming from here. Keep ’em coming. Sign Cespedes & Soler, sign some other Cuban dudes we haven’t discussed. With the draft rules changing, time to go all in.

      • loyal100more

        the chicago CUBANS!!!

        • King Jeff

          There are quite a few of them in the system now.

    • Mike

      I think that if they ponied up the $ it is because they knew getting him would mean a better shot at Soler and Cespedes.

      • loyal100more

        or its an example of the clubs commitment to bidding aggressively and signing all these guys

    • MichiganGoat

      Well we have about an hour before the evening crew shows up, the bigger question is if they read these comments first.

      • ferrets_bueller

        You mean the troll crew?

        Really, what is it about the night that makes the Dregs of this site come out?

        • MichiganGoat

          Well 10:30 EST and all is well, these last few days have been so much better. I think the legend of the banhammer has made its rounds

          • Ron

            Is it a legend or myth? I have not followed comments in a few weeks.

            • MichiganGoat

              Oh it is not a myth the banhammer is real and Brett is not afraid of using it.

              • Ron

                Who don’t I see….who don’t I see….

                • MichiganGoat

                  The who is still around but better behaved

    • cooper

      Think this also helps build a welcoming culture for our other prospective Cuban detectors. Not a slam dunk, but gives one more little advantage in nabbing Cespedes and Soler.

  • David

    Yay! Signing highly touted pitching prospects is my fav!

  • Cheryl

    Real good start. Hope we do as well with the others.

  • ferrets_bueller

    BOOM! simply boom.

  • TeddyBallGame

    I think the signing of Concepcion can only help our chances to add Soler and/or Cespedes as well. I’m not suggesting that either Soler or Cespedes is going to sign because Concepcion did, but it shows the Cubs are fully commited to the latin american side of baseball. I wonder if today’s announcement of the new facilities in the Dominican had anything to do with the Cubs knowing they were going to sign Concepcion?? Either way, this seems to be a good sign…

  • North Side Irish

    Just saw a report that the deal was for $7M…seems steep to me…or at least more than I was expecting…

    • King Jeff

      That’s less than they gave Jeff Samardzija. I guess it depends on the years.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Thats only about 90 innings of Ryan Dempster.  I’d take this kid’s potential over 90 innings of Dempster in a second.

    • loyal100more

      congrats son your a rich man… now get to work! oh yea and tell all your friends about us too!

  • loyal100more

    or the chicago CUBanS

  • ferrets_bueller

    This is likely to get completely lost in the excitement, but the Cubs have also signed RRS.  (Ryan Rowland-Smith, for the unitiated).  I’ve always liked RRS, (along with Brandon Morrow(two guys I used to draft as late round fliers in FBB a few years ago, when they were with SEA(obviously, Morrow is no longer a late round guy (and neither is RRS, as he dropped off the map)))) and hope that he can finally get his career turned around in our system.

  • Warriors4

    I see this signing as even greater things to come!!!!

  • ferrets_bueller

    I can see it now….Castro leading an army of Cubans!!

    JFK is rolling in his grave! 😛

    • cjdubbya

      I’d say that if we pull the coup & sign all three, we’ll have the new Cuban missile crisis, with Castro leading the charge. But in this case, the missiles will be hurled by Concepcion and flying off the bats of Castro, Cespedes and Soler. Viva la Cuba, viva los Cubs!

      • ferrets_bueller

        Viva los Osos!!!

  • Brett

    Added a second update. Rojas says it’s a Major League deal, which – if true and without some weird qualification – would mean Concepcion would have to go on the 40-man, and the Cubs would have to bump someone else off.

    I know Concepcion had a lot of leverage here, but that part is kind of surprising (and kind of a pain in the ass – again, if it’s true without some weird qualification).

    • Brett

      It would also mean – again, unless there’s something weird – that he uses an option year each season he’s on the 40-man but not in the bigs. So that would mean after three years, when he’s just 21, the Cubs have to call him up, or he’s subjected to waivers. The more I think about this, the more I think either it’s not a true big league deal, or Concepcion is even more polished than people say, or maybe he’s a hair older (which, I know, is taboo to say – and I’m NOT saying that’s the case).

      • ferrets_bueller

        Maybe he is pretty close, then.

        ….or thats what they had to do to sign him- give him an ML contract, and put him on the 40, which no one else was willing to do.

        Or….*wait for the incredibly predictable theory* someone on the 40 is going to Boston.

        • Brett

          Yup, I wonder that part, too.

          • MichiganGoat

            There’s got to be something else in the works, he’s a year away, or it’s not a true MLB contract.

      • Joker

        If it’s a major league deal then Theo/Jed/Jason have this guy rated more highly than most suspect. Perhaps they know he is older, perhaps they know he is just better. I am going to remain optimistic (especially with no reason not to be). Let’s go Cubs!

    • cjdubbya

      I’d say that you’re the first pessimist then, Brett. Thanks for raining on our Cuban parade.

      To be serious though – thanks for the updates.

    • Deez

      If it’s a Major League deal, don’t you think this “weakens” us as an organization? We have an asset sitting on the 40-man Roster that’s at the least 2 years away.

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    This really makes me wonder if the reason the Cubs got Concepcion is because they ponied up huge, knowing that they weren’t going to get Cespedes or Soler.


  • Karen P

    Fantastic. Such good news.

  • Mike F

    I like it. I think it’s great. I’d like to see them get Soler, don’t care if they get Cespedes. I think those thinking Cepedes is going cheap are way off. Unlike Darvish who went where people were forecasting, I think Cespedes, because of Miami and other teams like Detroit goes higher than people think. closer to 60M than 40M. And right now the cubs system in my estimation if they sign Soler is top 1/2 and with any kind of draft at all with 4 top 70 picks they should easily be in the top 1/3 by the end of the 2012 season, hopefully ending so much emphasis on blowing it up to blow it up and track back to what should be the ultimate goal, winning to win.

  • Castro’s_Cousin_13

    This is a nice sign. Hopefully Cespedes and Soler are next in line to join the men in cubbie blue!

  • DocWimsey

    I like the signing. As I am wont to write, even if Concepcion does not pan out, then this is the right sort of “mistake” to make.

  • Norm

    Pessimist here does not like the major league deal…

    • MichiganGoat

      But do you believe Theo and Ricketts are idiots? It’s okay to be concerned about the deal- it certainly raises questions. We are just wanting for the first to attack the FO as a bunch of morons.

      • Norm

        Well that would just be irrational.

  • JR 1908

    So… If the major league deal thing is true, this isn’t nearly as good as a signing??? Seems extra risky if that is true.

  • JB88

    Given the money, I just can’t see the Cubs hurting their long-term flexibility by signing him to a major league contract. This FO is just too smart for that. I just can’t believe that it is a ML K.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    I really like what Theo and Jed has done this offseason in adding to our pitching depth.

    1st. Casey Weathers 2nd. Travis Wood 3rd Andy Sonnanstine
    4th.Chris Volstad 5th Paul Maholm 6 Gerardo Concepcion

    With the draft last season in getting Dillon Maples and if our 6th pick overall we should get a good pitcher in the 1st round (if they choose to go that way which I think they will).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Garza stays and if he goes I am confident that we will get a really good package for him that would make us better for the future. If we keep Garza and sign him long term he is definetely a pitcher to be a 2 starter at worse in our rotation for years I can live with that :)

  • JR 1908

    Who the hell is enrique rojas?? And are we sure he knows what an mlb contract entails?

    • JB88

      He works for ESPN covering the Caribbean, I believe.

  • Luke

    Even if it is a major league deal, I love it. I half expected him to get one anyway. Sure, its a risk and a bit of an annoyance in having to clear a 40 man slot for him, but I think it is a risk worth taking.

    I strongly suspect this means that Soler will also be offered a major league deal (Cespedes seeing one was a foregone conclusion anyway). That could be two more roster slots to clear out. Now I really want to know what trades talks are on the back burner.

  • Brad Barber

    My question is: is he as good as a 1st-ound pick? That is essentially what we are paying him to be, it seems (although picks don’t have a market to their advantage). I’m looking at this as if his $7 million deal would have been about a $2 million draft bonus/contract. That would realistically slot him to about pick 15-25 (adjusted for over-slot payments). Would any of the scouts that saw him taken him in the first round? That is my question.

    • Kyle

      An 18-year-old lefty who throws 92 and has two potentially plus breaking pitches?

      Yeah, he’s going in the mid to late first round. That also jives with Goldstein’s comment that he fits in the system at No. 6. That’s below Baez but above Vogelbach.

      But free agent prospects will of course get more money than comparable draft picks. The price of signing draft picks is artificially deflated by the restriction that they can only sign with the team that drafts them, lowering their leverage.

      • ferrets_bueller

        You can add to that, an 18 year old lefty who throws 92 and has potentially two plus breaking pitches……….and has already dominated a roughly A-AA ball type competition, with at least a handful of near MLB ready players.

        That….is impressive.  This is the equivalent of a guy coming out of high school at only 17, and domiating Rookie ball, getting promoted to regular A, and being the best pitcher there.

    • Luke

      I’m not sure if the draft experts at Baseball America have answered that in the past; if they have, take their word over mine.

      I think he would be no worse than a supplemental first round pick. Some years, he could have gone in the top 10 easily. Even though he doesn’t have ace stuff, he is left handed and relatively polished for his age. Both of those add to his value from a draft stand point.

  • Ivy Walls

    Waiting for the details, if MLB contract it is a timetable that he must be in the bigs in three years (21-22 yrs old).

    One other thought, another major left handed acquisition;

    Rizzo, Maholm, Wood, Dejesus, Stewart, and now Conception.