In mid-February, an otherwise innocuous report from Dave van Dyke, citing rumors out of the Dominican Republic, claimed that the Chicago Cubs had come to an agreement with big-time Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, who had defected to the DR. The report, which noted a specific signing amount ($27.5 million), set off a chain reaction of reports, retractions, commentary, etc. Soler was not yet eligible to sign at that time (indeed, he remains ineligible), so there was a vast ocean of gray in which writers could tread, claiming there was no deal.
You’ll recall, at least one source suggested we were going to hear a great deal of spin suggesting that the Cubs and Soler didn’t have any kind of understanding, primarily because the Cubs feared they could get into some trouble if they had indeed made such an agreement before Soler was actually eligible to sign. From last month:
Consider this: Jorge Arangure of ESPN had an interesting take on the way these reports have come out today. He noted in a series of tweets that, with respect to the Cubs and Soler, “[b]oth sides may have a deal, but would now have to give impression they don’t because it’s against US and MLB rules. Teams have to be very careful regarding Cuban players. Premature deals can get teams in legal trouble. So basically, expect a lot of spin the coming weeks about Soler to Cubs.”
For my part, a source told me the Cubs and Soler’s representatives had an understanding of what an acceptable agreement would look like once Soler was eligible to sign, but I could not find a source willing to tell me that Soler’s representatives were not still negotiating with anyone else. A decent report, but far from certainty.
Things quieted down considerably from there, and, as Arangure predicted, there were a number of rumors about other teams working out Soler, and about the Cubs losing their “lead.” Then, this week, Peter Gammons started another chain of reports by tweeting that an international scouting director told him that Soler is probably going to eventually wind up with the Cubs.
Now, Phil Rogers has offered his two cents, reporting the following:
Even though the process drags on, the drama has seeped out of the Jorge Soler derby. An executive with a team that had been pursuing him says he believes the reports that Soler has agreed to a $27-million deal with the Cubs. The feeling is they blew away the competition in bidding for the 19-year-old center fielder, using a war chest they had accumulated by cutting the 2012 payroll with an eye on the future.
Nice to hear, obviously, and a little more smoke. But, because of the way this has played out – and because Soler remains ineligible to sign while he awaits residency in the DR – I’ll again preach optimistic caution. My position remains largely unchanged from where it was last month:
Ultimately, after digesting everything, I believe it’s more likely than not that Jorge Soler will eventually sign with the Cubs, and probably on a contract featuring terms that have already been discussed – if not explicitly “agreed to” – between the parties. Let’s call it 51%. But it could still be a while.
Without being a scare-monger, it seems fair to point out: Yoenis Cespedes was all but signed and delivered to the Miami Marlins three or four times before the A’s came completely out of nowhere and signed him.
Keep your squeals in check.