Obsessive Jorge Soler Watch: Could He Really Get Free Agency After His Initial Contract?

Now that we’ve resigned ourselves to accepting the fact that the Chicago Cubs aren’t the only team aggressively pursuing 19-year-old studly Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, we can dispassionately (ha, right) view rumors about his future team when those rumors don’t say things like “the Cubs are the favorite” or “the Cubs have all but signed Soler.”

Enter Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who is usually fairly on the money. First, he discusses Soler’s free agency, generally, and a few teams in on him:

While no team technically is allowed to offer Soler a contract – he has yet to be cleared by the Office of Foreign Assets Control – teams surreptitiously let it be known what they’re willing to pay. And that is a boatload for a player expected to spend a couple of years in the minor leagues.

When reports from the Dominican Republic said Soler would sign with the Chicago Cubs for four years and $27.5 million, the dollar figure didn’t seem altogether ridiculous, not after the Oakland Athletics gave 26-year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes a four-year, $36 million deal. It’s the years that made the reports dubious, the idea that any team would let a 6-foot-3 (or 6-foot-4, depending on the source), 200-pound potential star hit free agency at 23 years old.

Anyway, limiting the market for Soler at this juncture would be self-defeating. According to two sources, the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies – the teams with payroll Nos. 1 and 2 in the major leagues this season – have expressed the keenest interest in Soler. A Cubs official confirmed they’re smitten by him as well, and as we’ve seen with the last two big-time Cubans – Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman and Cespedes – you can’t forget the low-revenue teams.

Ok, the Yankees and Phillies might be the most interested teams in Soler. Other sources say otherwise, but it’s plausible. Add that to your database.

But then Passan suggests a bombshell.

OFAC’s unblocking process takes time and is inconsistent, so Soler could hit free agency next week – or maybe next month. When he does, the offers will pour in – more of the six- and seven-year variety since the interest in Soler will almost ensure he receives a contract that grants him free agency at the end. He’d be 25 or 26, still a pup.

Passan is talking about the kind of contract Yoenis Cespedes received from the A’s – one in which he’s guaranteed free agency after the end of the contract, regardless of his service time (Cespedes’ four-year deal ensures that, even if he’s in the bigs the whole time, he will not achieve the six years otherwise required for free agency). Those contracts are, to put it mildly, exceedingly rare. In fact, Cespedes was the first Cuban to get such a deal (before him, only a very small handful of Japanese players received such a luxury).

Does Soler – at 19 – really have that much leverage? Consider that, a typical international signing would see a kid get a huge bonus, and maybe even some big league-level money while he makes time in the minors, if he’s lucky. From there, whenever he did make the Majors, his team would get the usual six years of big league control (during which he’d be paid better than most, because his salary couldn’t go down more than 20% (in other words, he wouldn’t be making the Major League minimum in those first three years like everyone else)). Thus, signing the kid to a four-year deal could provide as much as 10 years of total team control (if he spent those first four years in the minors).

Is Soler so special, or these circumstances so unique, that a team could justify giving such a young player a six or seven-year deal, after which he’s free to hit the open market? He’ll spend two or three years in the minors, at least, so, imagining that he gets – let’s say – six years and $36 million, the team is essentially agreeing to pay him $12 million per year for three years when he finally reaches the Majors. You don’t need me to tell you that’s crazy.

That’s why Passan calls reports of a four-year deal dubious. Maybe he’s right.

But it’s just as likely that the dubious part is the idea that a team would sign Soler to the kind of deal that grants him free agency after just six or seven years.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

30 responses to “Obsessive Jorge Soler Watch: Could He Really Get Free Agency After His Initial Contract?”

  1. Smitty

    I am sure it is just me, but the more these contract “stipulations” get floated out there on this kid, the more I am immediately cautious of signing him. As you suggested Brett, “12mil” a year for the actual 3 years of playing in the majores is quite the haul for an unproven 19 year old.

  2. Andrewmoore4isu

    Oh man. Let’s pass then and bid when he hits free agency and we are ready to win

    1. Luke

      If he’s good enough that the Cubs want to bid on him, he probably won’t hit free agency.  The team that gets him now will do everything in their power to extend him before he gets to that point.

      1. Andrewmoore4isu

        And the team that pays 40 mill gets him and he’s a bust they’re screwed. The worse thus thing sounds we should just wait 6 years

  3. BD

    This is going to be the new tactic with the new CBA limit on international spending: since the money amount is going to be relatively even from all teams (depending on the player), what other benefits can be given (i.e. early FA).

    1. Luke

      I’ll need to do some digging to be sure, but I don’t think that would be allowed under the new CBA.  When the new international rules kick in this summer, I think IFA contracts will be standardized, and there are penalties for any kind of under-the-table shadiness that circumvents the CBA.

      By 2014, we could be looking at an International Draft in addition to the current Amateur Draft, and I know contracts for draftees are standardized.  Major league deals for drafted players are a thing of the past, for example.

  4. Mike Foster

    Soler, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.. $27 million zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, greedy owners. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.$35 million..zzzzzzzzzzzzz PLAY BALL!

  5. ferrets_bueller

    Give the kid 40 million and get it done.

  6. Hrubes20

    Just my opinion, but I think you are giving Passan too much credit here. Goldstein specifically said that a 4 year deal with Soler, would be the same type that Viciedo, Iglesias, etc. got. It’s also come out from at least 2 places (one from Ben Badler, who I respect the crap out of) that the Yankees are not interested in Soler if he’s anywhere near the reported price tag of $28 million. It’s also debatable as to how serioust he Phils are as well. Nobody is going to give Soler a deal where they don’t get 6 years of team control at the big league level. Just isn’t going to happen.

  7. JulioZuleta

    Brett, thanks for the Bloomberg link on Twitter. I just signed up, it’s a couple blocks from where I live. Sounds like it should be interesting.

  8. Matt

    IMHO, doling out that kind of money for a guy who’ll be spending half of that 6 years in the minors is a mistake.

    I’ve never liked the Samarzdjia contract for that reason; with so much guaranteed money on the line, there’s a tendency to feel the need to have the guy on the big league roster whether he deserves to be there or not.

    I’m (sort-of) happy with the development of Shark as a set-up guy, but it’s too much guaranteed money for him just to be labeled as such, and once again he’ll be “battling for a spot in the rotation,” despite the fact that he still doesn’t locate his pitches well and doesn’t have a very good 3rd pitch that a starter really needs.

  9. Packman711

    Does the risk reward even pan out here? ~30 mil can get you a lot more than “potential”, right?

  10. cubmig

    I hope Theo&Co don’t go crazy and dump a ton of dollars on a prospect that is…..well….a prospect. Solar may have all the tools, but he is still unproven against major league realities. If the previous FO signings signal anything, there’s reason to believe fiscal sanity will prevail.

    1. Dave

      I don’t know what would be considered crazy but doesn’t Soler fit perfectly into the Cubs build from within plan. The Cubs say they are not signing big time free agents so the money has to go somewhere and if not here where?

  11. Steve

    This is turning into a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ circus. I used to enjoy this off season banter…now, not so much. Wake me up when it’s opening day, my nerves can’t handle this. .

  12. Luis Salazar

    There is no way that someone would be dumb enough to give this guy a big contract 4-6 yrs. with no team control. No 19 year old is worth that in baseball, waaaaaay too big of a risk. Especially from Cuba, where you can’t find much info on him. And I don’t know how many times I have seen that pic of him holding his bat with his left hand, must be his only picture ever taken. You’re going to give a guy with one picture ever taken a stupid deal like that??

    1. ogyu

      Yea … I mean … we don’t even know if he has a hot girlfriend. Way too big a risk.

  13. Adam

    Does every player in Cuba wear number 51? Both Soler and Cespedes have 51. Something strange going on here and I don’t trust any of it.

    1. hardtop

      they are both grocery clerks. there was one uniform down at the local thrift store. they traded a couple pounds of cows tounge for the uni, snapped a few picks of each other wearing it, and put together couple highlight reels of other players on soler’s commodore 64 (the young kids are always more hip to the technology)

  14. Reality Check

    Ferret saying we should give some 19yr old prospect 40mil is funny.. What a dope. Good thing you have a big cheer section on this site who will defend you but you’re still a dope.. Maybe your buddies goat and Abe can call me a troll and come to your defense like always.. Stupid ferret, what a moron.. Every time you post we all lose brain cells.. Pretty sure u must work pr for the cubs.. Moron.. And I mean these comments in a totally happy, loving, I just wanna be good friends kind of way, so as to not have anything lost in translation.. Joy to the World y’all!! Yee haa!! 8-}

    1. MichiganGoat

      So just to summarize: You disagree with ferrets. Correct? So just say that without the angry manic rant.

      1. Reality Check

        Thank you goat, I do admit I felt the need to be reprimanded.. Just know I respect your authority and appreciate the inherent risks you assume everyday, providing security to the website.. You are a good man for protecting ferrets honor, on cue I might add.. And again, I’m saying all of this in a very positive, feed the kids, love thy neighbor, hands across America kind of way.. Go Cubs Go!!! 8-D

    2. ogyu

      Why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother’s eye and considerest not the head up thine own rectum?

  15. ogyu

    .

  16. Reality Check

    How about we give Soler nothing.. Not one damn dime, and instead invite him to come to work for us in spring training and he can show us if he can hit u.s. Pitching.. If he can we give him a contract with incentives if he performs well.. You know, kind of like every job I’ve ever had.. Kind of like how the entire world has to actually earn their paychecks before getting them.. I don’t have any friends or family who got to be millionaires before their first day on the job, because they told their employer trust me, I’m gonna be good! This is why sports sucks at times.. All contracts should be incentive based, a soriano mess shouldn’t be possible.. If a guy cant earn his money he doesnt get it, thats the way it is in any other profession, but unions got involved and now its really just a joke.. I know how it is, and i get it, im just saying it sucks.. We have people on here who I assume work real jobs, and have to bust their asses to provide modestly for their families, carried away by whether or not some stupid teenage kid, honors the cubs by letting them be the lucky team to throw $40million at a him. That makes us lucky??.. Hes a teenage kid who’s really tall, and who likes to play baseball, and he’s kind of good at it.. So what! Stories like this make me hate sports, then stories like Jeremy Lin pull me back in.. Stupid spoiled Prima donna athletes make me sick.. If someone gave me 40 million at 19 it wouldn’t make me work harder, it would make me work less.. That’s winning the lottery boys.. Imagine a kid born into poverty getting that money, what would any of you have done as a dumb kid with 40mill.. What a world we live in.. Poverty everywhere but we pay kids millions to play a stupid game.. Pathetic..I wouldn’t be surprised even a little if this kid laughs all the way to the bank while never amounting to crap.. I’m more excited to have dejesus, at least he’s a major league baseball player..

    1. BetterNews

      Reality-Come on man! Think of it as an auction. Highest bidder is going to get Soler most likely based on scouting reports. If the Cubs believe the investment(yes a player is an investment) is going to yield a nice profit, of course they should pony up. And remember, you are not the one holding checkbook at this auction.

  17. die hard

    A fair deal would be a series of 5 one year contracts with each side having option not to renew…if not exercised then next year kicks in at agreed upon salary….so, start at $1 mil yr and bump each yr by doubling prior year…with free agency after 5th yr..if hes another Pujols, the nwhy not…if another Pie, will be gone after yr 3

    $1 mil
    2 mil
    4 mil
    8 mil
    16 mil