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Ever since rumors surfaced this weekend that the Chicago Cubs were aggressively pursuing 19-year-old Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, the story on Soler and the Cubs has bounced back and forth from hopeful to dour, to thrilling, to somber, to confused.

And that was all within the span of two and a half days.

At the risk of overdramatizing, I think the Jorge Soler story has dramatically shifted once again.

To wit:

On Wednesday morning, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and members of his front office watched the 19-year-old Soler — along with Cuban pitcher Armando Rivero, outfielder Henry Urrutia and left-handed pitcher Omar Luis — work out at the club’s complex in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic, according to an industry source. The Orioles are scheduled to visit Soler in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, the source added.

Now then.

There are a handful of explanations here that could be spun in favor of the Cubs if you were inclined to do so – maybe Soler’s agent put the call out to other teams to give them one last chance to blow away the Cubs’ offer, and Anthopoulos is just “making sure”; maybe Anthopoulos really wanted to check out the other kids there in the DR, and figured he might as well take another look at Soler while he was down there; I could go on with these plausible, but straining, explanations. It’s all possible.

But any suggestion that this is some kind of smokescreen, or anything other than another team legitimately devoting a significant effort to scouting a kid they might want to sign, is grasping at straws.

The Cubs might be the most likely team to sign Soler, but other teams are still involved.

At this point, I’d say it’s clear that, to the extent any “agreement” exists between the Cubs and Jorge Soler, it is an “agreement” in only the most generous sense of the word. We already knew it would have to be non-binding, and now I’d say it isn’t even a real wink-and-a-nod. Instead, it can’t be any more than what I said yesterday:

I think it’s safe to say that the Cubs really want Soler, and have been in discussions with his representatives. Those discussions have probably not been merely preliminary, but have probably involved some very specific terms.

Indeed, I checked with a source who’s usually fairly well tapped into the amateur scene, and he suggested that he believes the Cubs and Soler’s camp have a non-binding, mutual understanding of what an acceptable contract would look like once Soler is eligible to actually sign one.

I can’t say with confidence that Soler’s camp isn’t still talking to other teams, but it seems safe to conclude that the terms the Cubs have thrown around have been sufficiently acceptable that they *could* represent a final deal, once Soler is cleared to sign.

If you claim more than that right now – as much as you might want to – you’re going too far. It’s relatively clear that Soler’s camp remains open to other teams swooping in.

  • Corncub

    I really hope the Cubs can get this kid. I would like to see some video on him. Who does he project to be similar to when MLB ready?

  • Joker

    Will we even remember this kid’s name in 4 years? I understand the talent is there according to the scouts, but how many 1st rd draft choices end up as busts? Simmer down boys and girls. If we get him and he pans out, great. If not, oh well.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I know what you’re saying, but, by that logic, I guess the Cubs shouldn’t even participate in the Draft, right? Or, at least, none of us should care about the Draft (and, specifically, a top 10 draft pick).

      You can’t really believe that.

      • When the Music’s Over

        Yes and no.

        Yes in that teams should always want to be in the mix when it comes to acquiring what it perceived to be high end talent.

        No when it could come at an extreme cost. If the bidding war on this guy gets out of hand ($28M just to get him into the system is a ton of money), then shouldn’t opportunity costs be brought into the equation? Meaning, isn’t it possible that this same money could be used to sign a high end free agent next year. In other words, if you’re not paying Soler $7M/year, that money should be free to apply towards someone like Hamels/Greinke/Cain/etc.

        Overall, I’m all for getting this guy into the organization, but I do agree that at some point, we have to consider the cost. Basically, unless I’m not understanding things correctly, a $28M/4 year deal for this guy is similar to a posting fee for a Japanese pitcher if this guy spends 3-4 years in the minor leagues.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Of course cost is considered and if they sign him, then we can assume that they feel the money won’t affect the signing that you refer to.
          But that won’t prevent us forum-posters from complaining that it will prevent those types of signings.

          • When the Music’s Over

            I agree in that there is no real way to tell if it will impact future signings, but what amounts to a $28M signing bonus (if that is what it comes to) is a lot of money to pay a 19 year old with almost zero track record.

            I think Strasburg has the record for the largest contract in draft history at $15.1M/4 years. If this contract is indeed $28M/4 years, it would blow Strasburg’s out of the water. Just trying to put things in context a bit.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              A very useful exercise – but keep in mind, bonuses/contracts for these types are always (well, until the new CBA) going to blow draft pick deals out of the water. Draft picks can negotiate with only one team, and have only two options – sign or don’t.

              • When the Music’s Over

                Understood for sure. Although, when the money gets this high, the player typically has a long track record, right?

                The Japanese pitchers have been around in their leagues for a while or with someone like Cespedes, he has played in Cuba for a long time. I also feel like the international signees last year topped out at around $5M, and even then people thought those were large numbers.

                This guy is so young with almost zero track record, which means he might be given a huge some of money based exclusively on speculation.

                All that said, I hope the Cubs do get him. I’d just hate to see it hamper their chances to get other players in the future.

            • Kyle

              As Brett pointed out, that doesn’t really add any context, because of the difference between a draft pick and an IFA.

              If Strasburg had been a free agent, he would have gotten much, much, much more than he did. He probably would have gotten more than the Rangers spent on Darvish.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You are understanding things perfectly (and that’s actually a great analogy). I agree with you on all points.

          • Joker

            And I agree as well. I was trying to temper expectations a bit as I think we are all getting worked up in a lather. (Disclaimer – the fanboy in me says that we probably should though if he gets what amounts to a $28 million signing bonus.) When we start talking that kind of money for unproven talent, I start to get jittery – mainly because the fanbase’s expectations will place this kid in a difficult position. There is very little room for error if Soler is to meet our (rabid) expectations for his career.

            I think of Jeff Samardzija here. Granted, very few of us believed that he was worth the kind of money that Jim Hendry threw at him to get him to choose MLB over the NFL, but the contract clearly put Jeff behind the 8-ball. Jeff apparently turned into a very fine middle to late inning reliever last year, but is that what we expected when he was drafted and the Brinks truck rolled up out front of his house? No.

            I guess I should not try to temper expectations (where is the fun in that?) but for once in my life I thought I’d give it a shot.

    • DocWimsey

      The probability that a first round pick will become an All-Star is quite low. However, the probability that an All-Star was a first-round pick is quite high: if you look at All-Stars who were drafted over the last couple of decades, the single most common round in which they were taken was #1. The second most probable round was #2. So, obviously the low probability of a first round pick becoming an All-Star is still a lot higher than the probability of a lower-round draft pick becoming one.

      • Joker

        Interesting take. I would love to see the stats for this analysis. I think it’s obvious that with 32 first round picks (factoring up to 15 years worth of active picks on average?) and only 50 or so All-Star spots each year, the chances of being an All-Star are not that high. Yet it’s interesting if most All-Stars tend to be first round choices.

        Anyone ever seen this in writing? Not doubting, just curiosity.

  • Cub Style

    I don’t need this stress! First we got him, then we’re favorites, now other teams are visiting him. Gah!

  • Steve

    This and the Garza soap opera is starting to make the Brian Roberts rumors more appealing….

    • Dave H

      Don’t forget Jake Peavey!

  • Dave H

    What is holding up his status? I think he has residency in the DR. MLB issues?

  • Leo Deleon

    Let’s see we’re getting Puljols-XXX we’re getting Fielder-XXX no lets get Cepeded-XXX no lets get this guy Soler. Anyone else see a pattern here?

    • JulioZuleta

      Let’s get Rizzo, let’s get Concepcion, let’s trade Zambrano, let’s add a young starter and prospects for a reliever with one year left, let’s sign a solid lefty starter…let’s not waste money on older players who will be on the downside of their careers when we are ready to compete.

    • DocWimsey

      No, not really, as the “we’re getting Pujols” and “we’re getting Fielder” fall into the same category as “I saw Elvis” or “I saw Bigfoot partying with Elvis.” It is true that the Cubs were pursuing Cespedes: but so were the Marlins and the Nats. And it is (probably) true that the Cubs are pursuing Soler: but so (probably) are several other teams.

  • Leo Deleon

    Most deals the Cubs have made have been done quite and under the radar if you hear about it then its probably not true.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      They have?  We started talking about Rizzo to the Cubs as soon as the Padres-Reds trade went down.  The Colvin / LeMahieu to the Rockies rumors started at least two weeks before the trade.  The Cubs were known to be in on Concepcion for months.  Maholm had been seen as a likely Cub signing since October, and the Cubs desire to move Zambrano was the worst kept secret of the off season.  None of those exactly qualify as quiet or under the radar.

      The only surprising move of the winter has been the Marshall trade, and in that case it had more to do with Marshall being traded in division and the high level of return the Cubs got back than the fact that he was traded.

  • mpope30

    Due to the unpredictability of this off-season, my prediction for Friday’s headline: “Cuban prospect Soler signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks” Why not, right?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sounds about right.

    • Frank

      I say it’ll be the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

  • HoustonTransplant

    If we can’t nail down a deal for this guy, I will be rather disappointed. I’m totally on board with scooping up good, young talent instead of overpaying for ‘big name’ veterans, i.e. Pujols/Fielder. However, when we don’t get a big name because we’re going with building the system, but we fail to make a ‘splash’ on THAT front as well, it just feels demoralizing.

    Here’s for morale…I’d like to walk away from this off season getting one of the 2 big names coming from Cuba. It would make me feel better about how mediocre this 2012 season is panning out to be!

    • Dave

      I agree 100% Houston this is the type of moves they have told us they are going to be making so the Cubs can compete for years at a time.
      If we are not going to be in play for the top free agents and then strike out on a player like Soler then I have to wonder exactly how successful and how long is this rebuild going to take.

  • Leo Deleon

    Theo and Jed were spotted in Orlando at the Magic game could Dwight Howard be coming to the Cubs?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      haters gonna hate

    • ogyu

      Dwight Howard? Maybe he could help hold up chunks of plaster at Wrigley.

  • Dave

    Isn’t Theo and Co’s whole plan based on developing a core of young talent?
    If Soler is thought of highly by them and they fail to sign him then it would be a big FAIL on their part considering the lack of spending this offseason and the need to improve the talent in the farm system.

    • Brian

      What I don’t understand, is fans that don’t understand, that there are like 31 other teams also interested in signing this kid. So, if the Cubs don’t get him, we shouldn’t be surprised or feel that the Cubs failed.

      • DocWimsey

        tsk, tsk. We all know that other teams are irrelevant. Hendry’s failure to “get it done” to acquire Brian Roberts had nothing to do with Angelos flatly refusing to consider any trade of Roberts: it was Hendry’s incompetence. This Angelos person probably doesn’t even exist. Similarly, Hendry’s failure to “get it done” to acquire Jake Peavy had nothing to do with the Pads demanding more talent that the Cubs had in their system: it was Hendry’s incompetence. This supposed “GM” on the Padres has no right to demand talent for an ace, anyway.

        Similarly, if Soler signs with the Yanks, then it will have nothing to do with the Yanks outbidding the Cubs (after all, the Yankees don’t really exist: they’re just a faerie-tale invented by ESPN), it will be Esptein’s and Hoyer’s incompetence.

        Oh, and if the Cubs *do* manage to win a bidding war, then, that too will reflect Epstein’s and Hoyer’s incompetence, as they clearly will be spending more than Soler is worth. After all, the other 29 teams are irrelevant, and they are supposed to convince Soler to take less money for the glory and honor of being on The One True Team.

        {/sarcasm}

  • Leo Deleon

    I agree JZ the Cubs have made good moves my point was if you hear its probably not true. Theo and company are discrete about there moves.

  • Ben Peoria Cubs Fan

    Theo is truly a genius. Faking interest in Cespedes and Soler in order to throw others off the true quarry,Henry Urritia.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Urrutia.  I’m not sure why we aren’t hearing more about that guy.

  • rbreeze

    The Cubs have been on this kid for a long time.  I think they have more time invested in this kid then Cespedes.  I’ll be disappointed if they don’t get him.  All of the other teams may be making one last attempt to see what it will take to get Soler.  For once it would be nice if the Cubs would be the winners in something.  Let it be the Soler derby.  The DR is a big place with many other players.  The Blue Jays could be scouting some other players while they are down there.  Hoping to maybe snatch Soler away from the Cubs.  Either way its time to play some ball.

  • die hard

    Im reminded of that scene in Moneyball where BB tells his long time scouts that they dont get it….Theo is telling Hendry’s scouts that they did a poor job and now Theo has no choice but to replenish system by going after Latin players including defectors. Huge gamble but also tells us what Theo thinks of Hendry’s scouts.

    • DocWimsey

      Last year, I think that there were only 4 Cub farmhands on the All Star ballot: and two of them (Theriot and McGehee) were in the process of losing their starting jobs. If I recall, then this is one of several recent seasons where the Cubs had the fewest farmhands on the ballot. I.e, all of MLB has been dissing the Cubs scouting for years.

      Here is another sad way to look at it: if Hak-Yu Lee succeeds, then I think he will be the first position player to “get away” since Raffy Palmeiro.

      • die hard

        you may be right…hopefully this kid does not also get away “with” what RP did to boost his stats…his Congress testimony was suspect

  • cls

    Sigh, now two other “sources” say that the Phillies and Yankees are going after Soler the hardest. I’m going to try to convince myself that what this means is that the Yankees and Phillies are the favorites and now the Cubs can sweep in out of nowhere, under the radar, and sign him.

  • Cubbiecop

    Getting Solar would be the icing on the cake for the off season. I have to say i’m pretty happy with what the front office has accomplished so far. I think that we will see a lot more drive and hustle out of this team than last years team and I will be a lot happier to see that than Ramirez loafing his butt to first on a ground ball. I understand that some people will jump me for this but you never know what can happen if you beat out that slow roller. If you get paid like a star act like one and set the example for the other young guys on the team. This means ON field and OFF field. If I half assed my job, i’d get fired.

    We will see what happens the first time Soriano doesn’t run out a grounder or botches an easy play in the outfield. I’ll be curious as to how our new skipper will react to that one. We have all heard the “we are going to hustle” thing before. Let’s have a manager hold some people accountable and bench them for lack of effort and let Campana or one of our rookies get out there. I highly doubt they will make an out or error by lack of effort. I’d rather see errors due to youth and inexperience than by laziness.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Isn’t it funny that Monday Night he was this close to signing with the Cubs, then Monday than Tuesday finding out the Yankees and Phillies along with the Marlins have interest. Now today the Blue Jays are interested. My guess is tomorrow another 2 teams will show serious interest like the Tigers, Orioles. I got a bad feeling we will not get Soler

  • Quintz

    If there were 30 Jorge Solers and the Cubs didn’t land one I’d understand the outrage. It would be nice to get him, but let’s not get entitled and or too excited by premature media reports. Theo isn’t a prophet, nor does he seem dumb. Only time will tell if he is either of those two, but my guess is he falls somewhere in the middle and hopefully a little more to the “prophet” side.

  • DCF

    I agree. It’s easy for a fan to say “Get this guyy!!11!!” and most ppl wouldn’t really care if it’s for $18 or $25 million. However when you are running a business you have to care about that difference, otherwise you are doing a lousy job.
    While Soler might be the most exiciting thing left to talk about this offseason, I see little reason to believe that paying close to $30 million for a prospect is a good deal.

  • Steve

    A Rizzo for Brian Roberts trade solves all our problems.

  • rOHER

    Epstein has been deified by cub fans who think he has some
    superior analytic ability or some secret statistical model to evaluate talent.
    He doesn’t.

    The truth is that Manny’s steroids had more to do with the BoSox winning than anything Epstein has done. Epstein brings no advantage over other GMs in getting a player unless he has more money to throw down and that budget may be getting thinner as wrigley requires more and more money to stay viable. Recently Kaplan, a lifelong cub fan, called Wrigley a “dump” that will never be adequate, even after extensive and repeated remodeling which will drain the teams resources for years to come.

    Once the Cubs start losing actual games and these prospects start fizzing out, one after another, you will see cub fans turn on Epstein faster than they did on Bartman in 2003, or on dusty Baker, Piniella, Hendry. Epstein in no God, he is just another overpaid baseball executive that happens to be tremendously overrated.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Said with the very same certainty that you purport to deride.

    • http://Www.campvegetable.com camp vegetable

      Thank you! Remember the one GM in all of baseball who could fail to develop a single Dominican player for Fenway upon the coat-tails of Pedro and Ortiz. Imagine all the goodwill those two players generated for the Beantown red, white, and blue. Not a one.

      • CubsWin

        I guess Stolmy Pimentel and Oscar Tejada aren’t from the DR. And even if you weren’t wrong on the DR statement – I don’t think any Cubs fan on earth cares about whether or not we develop a player from the DR if we can win 90+ wins for the next decade and take home 2 WS rings. But hey, gotta get those DR players developed or you must be a crappy GM, right!

  • Stinky Pete

    k. Thanks for stopping by.

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