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.
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.
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.