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Part and parcel of the earlier post on the Chicago Cubs’ possibly reduced efforts to land 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, another Cuban player may have become the primary focus of the Cubs’ presently-available dollars.

Jorge Soler, a 19-year-old outfielder who, like Cespedes, defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic, has been discussed here many times before. The 6’3″ 205 pound youngster is considered one of the best outfield prospects in baseball, one whom Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein would rank in the top 40 prospects in baseball, and whom Baseball America’s Jim Callis believes would be a top 10 draft pick type.

If your hype-bone is tingling, it should be. This kid comes with loads of it.

And now your excitement bone can start tingling, too.

Goldstein said yesterday that “rumors out of the DR today [are] that the Cubs are making a very very big play for Jorge Soler.” Schwing.

Shortly thereafter, an even more specific report from Marlins’ writer Joe Frisaro said:

The buzz in the industry is Chicago’s focus is on 19-year-old Cuban sensation, Jorge Soler, who has yet to be ruled a free agent. The figure the Cubs are believed to be willing to spend on Soler (according to two sources) is $27.5 million. The number of years is not known.

Double schwing.

…but, in part, I doubt that report. Here’s why:

(1) This Cubs’ front office has been notoriously close-lipped about any and all dealings. It took months of cloak and dagger for them to even concede that they were interested in Yoenis Cespedes, despite reports of multiple visits; and

(2) That’s an extremely specific number. Are we to believe that the Cubs have decided internally – or, more accurately, have told other folks, including Soler’s camp – that they’ll spend exactly $27.5 million on Soler? That’s simply not how a negotiation works. You don’t lead by telling your negotiating opponent, “OK, we’ll go as high as $27.5 million. Will you take $15 million?”

That’s not to say I doubt that the Cubs are very interested in Soler and are willing to spend handsomely to get him – I believe both of those things. I also believe that Frisaro has heard that $27.5 million number, and that his two sources heard it, too. I simply doubt that the Cubs have spread the word that they are willing to spend this very specific figure on him.

What’s more likely is that the Cubs and Soler’s camp have had discussions. Over the course of those discussions, many numbers have been thrown around, and a sense has developed that the Cubs would be willing to spend up into the high $20 million range to get Soler if that’s what it will take. I’ll even go as far as to say that, perhaps, now the Cubs are the favorite to sign Soler. All in all, it’s still a schwing.

As for what Soler will ultimately get, early expectations were in the $15 to $20 million range. With Gerardo Concepcion getting more than many expected, it’s fair to guess that Soler may get more than originally thought (indeed, it could climb as high as $27.5 million). It’s also fair to guess that, despite his not being ready for the bigs for many years, he might get a Major League contract, as Concepcion did. He has the negotiating leverage, and he may require a team to give him the big league deal (and the 40-man roster spot that comes with it) as a tie-breaker.

Although Soler defected to the DR around the same time as Cespedes, we’ve heard nothing about his residency process, a necessary precursor to free agency. I suspect that, based on the uptick in Soler chatter, the young man has either achieved residency without fanfare, or is close to doing so. From there, he’ll need to secure a work visa in the U.S. before he can sign – a process that has taken Cespedes more than a week (and counting).

Soler, unlike Cespedes, is not a threat to contribute in the bigs this year, so the urgency to sign is reduced. Indeed, the only meaningful time constraint on Soler’s signing is July – that’s when the international signing restrictions in the new CBA kick in for the first time. If Soler wants to bank huge bucks, he’ll want to sign before then.

That’s all to say it could still be a fair bit of time before Soler signs.

If he signs with the Cubs, at least he’ll have some company in the minors. The Cubs have already signed three Cuban youngsters this Winter: big-time pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, and outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and pitcher Carlos Martinez. Their presence in the system probably won’t hurt the Cubs’ chances with Soler, who could adjust to life in in the United States and in professional baseball with some familiar faces.

Indeed, their presence, coupled with the Cubs’ pursuit of Soler, might not be a coincidence.

  • Fishin Phil

    If they do sign Soler, I would be exceedingly happy!

    • TWC

      I concur with the puppet.

    • NL_Cubs

      Soler is the way to go and I 2nd, well, 3rd the motion!

       

    • miggy80

      That would mean we got two of the top three Cuban players and the two youngest.

  • cls

    I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the fact Concepcion signed a MLB contract (we still dont know the details of that) and that Soler may get the same, especially considering we are probably 2-3 years before either would be ready for the bigs. Giving up two 40-man roster spots for that long a period is certainly a bit restrictive.

    I’d be curious to hear some opinions on the pros/cons of this situation should it work out that way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The only pro of signing a 19-year-old to a Major League contract is if the alternative is not signing him at all.

    • Hrubes20

      We don’t know the details because he technically hasn’t signed yet. He has merely agreed to terms with the club. Still have to clear a 40 man spot for him.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Thats a big kid.

    ….which leads me into my only big concern about Soler:
    He’s a big kid, and only 19.
    Right now, he’s 6’3”, which is the ideal height for a power hitter. 6’4” isn’t quite too tall, but once players, especially those with long arms, get to 6’5” and above, there is a significant trend of not being able to hit for average, and not being able to avoid strikeouts, due to the lengthening of their natural swing. Especially right handed hitters. Hopefully, he’s done growing, and stays at 6’3”

    • cls

      I also assume by the time he’s ready to hit the majors, he will start losing some of his speed, mainly due to his size.

      Still, he will be a guy who the new regime will be focused on developing. I am really excited to see how this organization improves in that area.

    • Bails17

      Frank Thomas, David Winfield, Derek Lee…just to name a few that have had pretty good success from the right side over 6 foot 3.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Got many more? There is a significantly larger amount of big righties who come nowhere near panning out. Even in comparison to big lefties, because there is a much larger amount of hard throwing right handed pitchers. The vast majority of very tall right handed hitters cannot catch up.

        Btw, DLee is an interesting mention, as he did something that was rarely spoken about, but was an extremely smart technique- he angled his back foot. Instead of keeping it perpendicular to the plate like every other hitter until his hips started to come around, he ‘cheated’ by angling his back foot towards the front of the plate. In doing so, it loaded his back leg in a twisting motion, forcing his body to come around quicker, quickening his entire swing. Without that, I doubt he would have become the hitter that he did.

    • Garrett

      Don’t worry I am sure all of the “he’s probably really 24 so he is done growing” talk will come in rebuttal to your very good concern that I also am a tad worried about. Other than that though I am very excited about the kid just wish it wasn’t so long until he was in the biggs.

  • JB88

    Soler is the one I wanted the most from the beginning. Cepedes’ age (I don’t doubt that he is 26) and lack of experience in the MLB were the main reason he was last on my list. Cepedes needs to succeed immediately to justify his contract whereas Soler has loads of time to develop. IOW, I’m just concerned that the Cubs will have no margin of error on Cepedes. He’s entering his prime years without any time/chance to adjust to the US, American baseball, or moving from a remote, small market, to a top-5 market (if he went to Miami or Chicago). That’s a lot of change for an individual to instantly adjust to.

  • baseballet

    Maybe the Cubs passed on Cespedes because he’s too high of a risk at the salary he’ll command. He’ll be paid like a quality major league player but if he busts the Cubs won’t have any way to recoup any of their costs. If the Cubs have major doubts about him then it would be a big risk to sign him to a big MLB contract with nowhere to hide him. He’d be another Fukudome. (Koske signed for $48M and it became apparent in less than a season to all teams that the Cubs had signed a lemon).
    However with Soler, he’ll begin in A-ball and the Cubs will be able to evaluate him fully while he’s still in the low minors. If at that point they suspect he won’t pan out, then they could still trade him for some value because other teams would still view him as a valuable prospect.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      Fukudome was no stud, but he definitely was no lemon either. At 6-8 mil a year, he would have had good value.

      • baseballet

        Good point. Koske was a valuable player, but like you say, just not worth a huge contract. I respected Koske because he played hard and got on base.

        • ferrets_bueller

          I saw this in the comments and was thinking ‘why are we talking about Corey Koskie?” Lmao.

          • Cedlandrum

            Ha I had to read it a few times to figure it out too. I was wondering why is he pulling Kosie into this conversation.

            • ferrets_bueller

              I know 3B might be a question mark, but i highly doubt Corey Koskie is the solution! lmao.

  • TSB

    Karim Abdul-Jabbar was 6’8″ at the age of 11.For the next 7 years, he only grew 6″, topping out at 7’2″ at the age of 18. Maybe Soler is similar, and his significant growing days are over.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He was 6’8″ at 11!!?!?!? Holy. Crap.

      • JulioZuleta

        It’s no 6’8″, but I was 6’1″ 205 lb at 11. Now, at 23, I am still 6’1″ 205.

        • TWC

          Yeah, but just wait ’til you hit puberty!

    • Frank

      I’m 52 years old and still waiting for that high school growth spurt. But at least I’m the first in my family to make it to average height.

  • Serio

    If they sign Soler where do you think that ranks the farm system

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Depends on the analyst. A critic would leave the Cubs between 15 and 20. I would say it puts the Cubs somewhere in the 8-12 range.

    • Boogens

      Not to be a jerk, but who cares about how high this will push the ranking of their farm system? It’s like winning the Home Run contest at the All Star game. Yipee! Ultimately the only thing that matters is winning the World Series.

  • CubFan Paul

    Bubba Starling (OF comparison, i guess) was the 6th pick? how much money would Soler have gotten if he were picked 5th-9th??

    • Jeremy

      Starling got paid a lot more money to play Baseball because he had a scholarship to play both Football and Baseball at Nebraska so I don’t think you can really compare him money wise.

      • CubFan Paul

        i was comparing OF position and drafted/would be drafted pick in the Draft.

        • Jeremy

          ahhh ok sounded like you were comparing the money they would be getting.

      • DocWimsey

        The biggest thing that Starling and Soler had in common were competing offers. However, Starling’s was on the table: it was one football scholarship, which means tuition, lawyers, an order of magnitude less cash (albeit all tax free!), etc. Soler’s competing offers will, like Cespedes, be of unknown amounts from an unknown number of teams.

  • Bren

    Get er done. If we’re gonna gamble, given the current state of the team, on an uknown/untested quantity, take the younger one. I hope this gets done and quick

  • Jeremy

    Starling got paid a lot more money to play Baseball because he had a scholarship to play both Football and Baseball at Nebraska so I don’t think you can really compare him money wise.

    • Andrew

      While Starling got more because of a scholarship, Soler will get more because no team has exclusive rights, so they are comparable.

      • Jeremy

        Starlings deal was only 7.5 million over three years, that won’t compare in my opinion to what Soler will get.

  • LWeb23

    Buster says Cespedes to Oakland:

    “@Buster_ESPN: Sources: Oakland has agreed to terms with Yeonis Cespedes, 4 years, $36 million.”

  • Cheryl

    If the cubs get Soler the positives outweigh any possible negatives. He’ll probably not make the Bigs for three years. That should put him in company with many of the draftees from 2011. It looks as if the cubs will have a darn good club by 2014. That seems a long ways away but Theo and Company are doing this right. My question is, if he’s signed to a major league contract, who will be let go? They can’t wait until Dempster ends his career. They’ll have to make some trades or just release someone. And something has to happen with those on the major league roster for the Concepcion annoncement. Trade? Release?

  • Cheryl

    It looks like all bets are off on Soler. With C going to Oakland Miami may target Soler. This may end up being a bidding war.

  • DowntownLBrown

    If Theo does not get this done, as Cubs fans, I feel we should be let down. This would (expensively) put our farm system in line for where it needs to be for the future.

    • DocWimsey

      This is being written and re-written all over the place along the same lines:
      “If [INSERT GM’s NAME HERE] does not get this done, then as [INSERT TEAM’S NAME HERE] fans, we should be let down.”

      *None* of these GMs can “get it done”: this is a dance that not only requires two to tango, but also has numerous suitors asking the same girl (or guy). There are myriad reasons why Soler might choose another team, so do not bet on the Cubs being the one chosen.

  • DocWimsey

    Out of curiosity, why all the Marlins’ hate? Is this still residual from 2003? I, too, was crushed, but as I thought that the Marlins were the better team going into the playoffs, I did not hold it against them. (I save my hatred for San Diego!)

    • JB88

      I’m sure much of it stems from envy from a lot of people. The Marlins are a dredge of a franchise, with horrible ownership, running the team like an eBay auction, and most Cubs’ fans are probably furious that this team has bought 2 WS titles in its 20 years of existence, whereas the Cubs haven’t sniffed a WS since the 40s. To add to that, the Marlins used bribery to land a new stadium, which is now fueling their FA spending spree.

      Now that I type that all out, I think I’ll hate the Marlins. They represent everything that is wrong with pro sports these days and I hope their new stadium sinks into the ground. Now I feel better :)

    • Elwood

      I agree with all of this:  “I’m sure much of it stems from envy from a lot of people. The Marlins are a dredge of a franchise, with horrible ownership, running the team like an eBay auction, and most Cubs’ fans are probably furious that this team has bought 2 WS titles in its 20 years of existence, whereas the Cubs haven’t sniffed a WS since the 40s. To add to that, the Marlins used bribery to land a new stadium, which is now fueling their FA spending spree.”

      Some of my anger for them is rooted in envy. But, I live in South Florida. I go to the Cubs games, and any opportunity they have during a game, they rub 2003 in. Especially if the Cubs lose a lead late. This adds to the lack of class within the organization. Add overweight cheerleaders dancing on the dugouts in between innings, and that makes me not a fan.

  • KC

    This sounds great. What a very good but very different offseason then what we are used to. Next I would say lets trade Garza. If we could pick up 2 top prospects from somewhere (Tigers). We could have 5-6 prospects in the top 10. We would would have to have a top 10 or even a top 5 farm system.

    • http://bleachernation loyal100more

      we still have this years draft to try and come up. lets hope we draft well, sign soler, and add some top notch talent for garza.

  • OHBearCub

    Cubs shot at signing Soler 1 in 30. I don’t believe any of these stories. They are never correct. Unless somebody is laying next to Theo Epstein in bed at night they ask him how was your day today honey. And he tells that person boy this is what we got going on. Yada Yada… Then that person gets up at the crack of dawn after Theo goes to work and yells out the window… My husband says we are signing XXX today. I no longer believe it. Why because the guys on ESPN, MLB, Tribune, CSN and any blog out there don’t know Bleepin Nothing until it’s made official just like we find out. From the horses mouth. I don’t even care if we sign this kid. Not that I don’t care… I just don’t care until he is standing our dugout. Until then I don’t care about anymore.

    • Cedlandrum

      So here is the question for you. Why even come to a site that posts rumors in the first place?

    • TWC

      Wait.

      “…guys on ESPN, MLB, Tribune, CSN and any blog out there don’t know Bleepin Nothing… .  I just don’t care until he is standing our dugout. Until then I don’t care about anymore.”

      You don’t care about it anymore.  Blog writers know “Bleepin Nothing”.  But you’re commenting on a blog post about it?  To tell us that the blog writer knows nothing, and that you don’t care?

      Okaaaaaay.

      • ferrets_bueller

        We should change the name of this site from “Bleacher Nation” to “Bleeping Nothing.” Has a nice ring to it.

    • DocWimsey

      I agree: this is sort of like an agnostic complaining the church is pointless! However, what just happened with Oakland in no way tells us that Theo was uninterested in signing Cespedes. That is what the rumors were, not that Cespedes was going to sign with the Cubs. After all, you can bet that several other teams besides the A’s and Marlins (including, in all probability the Cubs) pursued Cespedes, and probably pursued him pretty aggressively.

      Similarly, if Soler signs with one of the other 29 teams, then this in no way tells us that Theo & Hoyer did not pursue him aggressively. We can bet that multiple teams are going to pursue this kid aggressively. (Indeed, don’t be surprised if the Yanks and Sox are in on this kid.)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’d add only that the suggestion that “rumors” never come true is plainly false, and kind of a lazy thing to say merely because this Winter has had a number of high profile surprises. We could do that dance on the other side, and it would be even easier to come up with examples. The team that scouted Yu Darvish the most? The Rangers. The team that got Yu Darvish? The Rangers. The most heavily-rumored destination for Gio Gonzalez? Washington. The team that traded for Gio Gonzalez? Washington.

        (The team surprisingly rumored to be getting Theo Epstein? The Chicago Cubs…)

        • ferrets_bueller

          …but the Theo comp isn’t going through! He’s being sent back to Boston as compensation for himself, along with Brett Jackson!

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Cubs really dropped the ball on that one.

    • ferrets_bueller

      “Unless somebody is laying next to Theo Epstein in bed at night they ask him how was your day today honey.”

      Journalism degree.

    • Ogyu

      If you know bleeping nothing, then you actually have no idea whether the Cubs have only a 1 in 30 shot at signing Soler. The proper response to having no basis for an informed opinion is to reserve comment, not to spout extreme contrarian opinions that don’t even purport to have a basis. In fact, it seems likely that you know even less than the guys who know bleeping nothing. So I’m starting to feel better about the Cubs’ chances of signing Soler.

  • OHBearCub

    30 years ago and I never used it for anything in my career. I was just stating that I went to school for it. Decided it wasn’t for me. I thought I wanted to be a sports writer. Then I decided I didn’t. Served my country instead.

    • Doug

      Thank you for your service!! It is appreciated. I am a VFW myself.

  • Eric

    Wow this guy does sorta look like a Cuban Heyward. Just as far as build/body type goes. The exciting part is he would immediately be the #1 Cubs prospect, above even Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo. And those 2 guys are almost ready for MLB and this guy is only 19. Which shows you just how much potential he really has.

  • Eric

    I think I saw some other ppls posts on my way to do this, BUT YEP IT LOOKS OFFICIAL FOLKS GET EXCITED!!

    http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/cubs-talk/post/Cubs-Soler-expected-to-agree-to-deal?blockID=650718&feedID=661

  • ferrets_bueller

    hell yes. this is the one thing I’ve been wanting all offseason.

  • DocWimsey

    So, what have Soler’s stats been? In particular, I am (shockingly) curious about his OBP. Cespedes had a very good OBP: and, yes, he had a good OBP at Soler’s age. Basically, even by age 19, we should be able to see the 6th tool.

    Again, my biggest concern is that guys can get by with just amazing contact ability up through AA or even AAA ball; however, very few guys can do that at the big league level. (Vlad and Ichiro come to mind: but that is about it.)

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      Here’s the best scouting report I can find on him.

      http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2011/11/cubs-interested-in-another-cuban-outfielder/

      In short, toolsy, but few numbers to back that up. I think we’ll have to wait until he’s been in the minors for 150 ABs or so before we start to bear down on the numbers and see what he’s made of. This is one of those moves were we almost have to sit back and trust the scouts for awhile.

      • DocWimsey

        Well, given that Theo prizes the ability to not make outs, Soler probably shows at least evidence of Tool #6. Otherwise, I doubt he’d make this big an investment. (And, yes, I do harp on and on about it: but it the correlation between working counts and success is just too strong to ignore.)

        • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

          Agreed. I wish I could find actual numbers, but they just aren’t out there yet. And to be honest, until he has a few months to adjust to American professional baseball, I’m not sure his numbers will mean much anyway. It could be longer than we like before we really have a good grasp on what exactly the Cubs have in Soler.

        • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

          Well the ability to take a walk does take the sting out of the slumps that come with being a baseball player. If you have a 2 week stretch where you only get 5 hits but you still walk 6-7 times you can at least take solace in knowing your OBP is still around .300 during a slump. If you only manage 2-3 walks then it looks even more dire.

    • jr5

      Ironically, Castro might be on that short list as well.

      • DocWimsey

        “That’s not irony, it’s coincidental”. Bender B. Rodriguez.

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