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Oh my…

After a long, silent stretch, and a big freaking scare yesterday (which I’m not convinced is unrelated to this news), multiple reports say 20-year-old Cuban outfield sensation Jorge Soler is officially a free agent now. Apparently he established residency in the Dominican Republic recently, and MLB has now cleared him to sign.

The Cubs, you’ll recall, are expected to be heavy bidders for Soler, and were once rumored to have a deal in excess of $20 million in place for him (which led to many denials and back pedaling (since, you know, he wasn’t a free agent yet)). Indeed, most sources would probably call them the favorite. Obviously this will be something to follow, and things could develop rapidly.

The new international signing restrictions don’t kick in until July 2, though, so he’s got plenty of time to sift offers.

  • JulioZuleta

    Can I get a squeal?

  • Mike S

    Let the games begin…

  • nkniacc

    Id be shocked if the Cubs don’t sign him. I also expect that if the Cubs reach an agreement it won’t be for atleast 10 days simply because of all the talk that the cubs had an agreement in place which would have been illegal since he wasn’t a free agent at that time

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Every possible sign points to the Cubs making a strong offer (though if Soler goes elsewhere I have no doubt that the conspiracy theory crowd will be rehashing the old ‘Cubs only pretended to want to sign him while carefully calculating their efforts to be sure they wouldn’t’ routine).

      But I have no doubt a few other teams are going to want to sign him as well.  If someone else offers him a Cespedes style four years only deal at $15 million a year, for example, he probably won’t be a Cub.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Tut, tut, Luke: we all know that the baseball universe is split into two things: the Cubs and the amorphous, passive, ill-defined “other team” the succeeds only when the Cubs FO fails to “get it done.”  (Weirdly, fans in other teams recognize this but mistakenly think that their team is the other half of the universe: is that not the height of arrogance????)

        Seriously, with the new CBA creating all kinds of uncertainty about how easy it will be to sign guys like Soler in the future, I would not be at all surprised if the bidding borders on ridiculous.

      • Kyle

        You mock what you don’t want to understand.

  • Assman22

    Joeby231 nails it again

    • JoeCub

      Some weird age exchange rate w/ guys from Latin America, apparently

      • JoeCub

        Whoops…meant to reply to the comment below

  • Luke D

    How is it that this guy has aged two years in the past six months?

    The first reports were that he was 18, then 19, then slowly 20… hate to be the one that cries wolf, but still.

    • djriz

      He’s Pujols’ son. They tend to age faster.

    • Kyle

      When we first heard about him, he was supposed to be 18 going on 19 in February. Then it was recently disclosed that he was actually 19 when we first heard about him and turned 20 in February

      That makes a really big difference to me in terms of how desirable he is. If we’re still giving him a $25 million deal or whatever, I guess I’ll just have to trust Epstein and Co. and wait and see, same as with Concepcion.

      • Ron Swanson

        I’m glad he’s been “aging” over the past few months. I take it as a good sign that verification is happening how, not 5 years from now when we can’t understand why his skills are dropping off at “29” years old.

      • King Jeff

        I agree, but at least both are calculated gambles on young guys with high upside. It’s nice that the Cubs finally got into the overspending on big name international free agents bonanza, even if it was very late in the game.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, the age thing makes perfect sense.  This hasn’t been widely known, but part of the delay was that Soler was holed up on Mercury for 3+ months owing to a bureaucratic snafu.  And, of course, the year on Mercury is only about a quarter as long as a year here, so that tacked an extra year to his age.

      • Cubmig

        Yeah Doc……this is 2012, a year when we’ve seen all kinds of strange things. You might have a point. ………………………………..lol.

      • djriz

        Really, I heard Cubans and Mercurians don’t get along.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yes, which makes the Mercurians happy to take Cuban defectors.

  • Cheryl

    Say the cubs s Soler and then in the draft take Almora (sp?) it would seem they would concentrate on pitchin for the two supplemental drafts.

    • djriz

      you would hope.

    • nkniacc

      I would guess both supp and the 2nd rd pick maybe pitchers with atleast 1 being a hs pitcher and id guess one that will sign for under slot

  • djriz

    Brett….I get short term memory loss (a lot)…any way you could rewrite the scouting report on Jorge?

    And, has he been playing or working out, or just eating Dominican Bon-Bons?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I will later. I’m at a golf course right now (bother in law’s birthday, and I’m the antisocial douche on his phone). This post was best I could do for now. There should be a trail of posts taking you back in the “related posts.”

      • Kurt

        You have every right to be an anti-social douche to him!

        He is your “bother”-in-law for goodness sakes. You’re forced to go out and play a round of golf because of him…that bastard!

      • djriz

        ” bother in law “? Love it. (can I borrow that? always needed a name for mine)

    • Assman22

      Soler has been compared to Stanton, J Upton, and Morse by scouts.  Below is a small excerpt from a site I frequent….he’s 2-3 years away for whoever was asking earlier.

      “A tall and lanky teenager who arrived in the DR in the winter of 2011, outfielder Jorge Soler is one of the most promising Cuban prospects in baseball today. He’s already shown off his tools in Dominica, and while he looks like a centerfielder right now, physically, his height and young age make it quite possible he’ll be a corner fielder when he finishes growing. And if his loopy power swing develops as expected, he’ll hit like one too.

      He’s already showing signs of MLB videogame level power at the plate, and his very strong arm is certainly real. His iffy contact skills and lack of patience at the plate, though, are equally clear indicators that he’s still a rather rough gem.” – Scouting Book

       

  • Shawon O’Meter

    El Pie Grande Vive!!!

  • Ron Swanson

    Gotta go get him. He’s basically an additional draft pick and the Cubs can spend money on him that they won’t be allowed to spend in the draft this year. He’s no guarantee of course but no draft pick is. Consider him a first round draft pick coupled with the new CBA rules and it makes sense to get very agressive.

  • CBP

    Jackson and Soler in the OF. Baez, Castro, Rizzo in the infield. Thats 5 major players playing daily. I wish this would come true. Also they might if he lives up to his potential could have Albert Almora if drafted. Wow that could be a crazy lineup

    • Kyle

      Where’s that 9-year-old BA chat link again? I’m still waiting for my Kelton/Montanez/Hill/Choi infield.

      Out of Jackson, Soler, Baez, Rizzo and and this year’s No. 6 draft pick, three regular major leaguers would be an amazing result. All five is so unlikely as to not be worth considering.

      • Assman22

        #6 pick you mean and next year’s surefire top 3 pick, all of last year’s picks like Maples and Vogelbach as well, then whoever comes back in any trades made at the deadline or in the offseason.

        • Kyle

          Fixed the 8/6 issue.

          Next year’s pick definitely excites me more than anything on that list outside of Rizzo. There’s a lot of reasons why being the worst team in the league would be bad (it probably means we got bad performances from long-term assets on the current roster, and it would probably mean a serious loss in revenue), but the higher the draft pick the better. Like I said earlier today, the increase in value of the picks isn’t linear as you move up. Give me one top pick over half-a-dozen No. 10s.

          But last year’s draft is already starting to lose some of the buzz. Maples already has elbow problems, and Vogelbach isn’t flashing a ton of power in Arizona EXST.

          • nkniacc

            Im not worried about Maples yet. I didn’t agree with the Vogelbach pick anyway and with Rizzo Id just like vogelbach to hit so they can trade him.

            • Assman22

              Agreed.  Such a difference a year makes.  Go back and look at our top 10 prospects in 2011 and now 2012, then what it will look like prior to 2013.  Pending the upcoming #6 pick in the draft on Monday, Soler should be either #4 or #5 ranked prospect in the farm system.  Rizzo, Jackson, Baez, Soler, draft pick.

          • Kyle

            And I don’t want to seem like I’m being needlessly negative. I’m very optimistic about a lot of what’s going on. We have fantastic executives in charge of baseball ops, and they’ve laid forth a plan that can work, and they’ve begun executing the first steps of the plan.

            But there are so many, many obstacles between the first step and success, I feel like the words of Winston Wolf are appropriate, if crude:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rNXP2ndT9M

    • jake w

      What about Lake?? I love that lineup

      • nkniacc

        Id guess lake or Vitters gets traded in either July or this coming winter

  • Njriv

    Things are going good as of late, Soler is a free agent, the draft is coming up, Rizzo is being Rizzo, BJax , Vitters and Torreys are turning it around, Lake is performing pretty well toward a promotion to Triple-A and Baez is in Peoria, pretty much everything is going well except the big league club.

    • Kyle

      The glass is definitely more than half-full, but there’s a bit of emptiness to it. See any pitchers on that list? Neither do I. There’s a few guys having decent seasons, but this organization is desperately short of high-upside arms doing well in the minors.

      • Njriv

        That’s true, outside of the first pick the draft and most of the transactions coming up have to involve young pitching.

      • Myles

        Junior Lake, duh

        • Njriv

          What about Lake?

          • ferrets_bueller

            Because if he ever actually even plays in the majors, I’d say there’s a 60-70% chance that its as a relief pitcher, not a position player.

            • Njriv

              Of course, of course, but my question is, if there are talks about him being promoted to triple A, why would they keep sending him up through the system if there is a decent chance that they are going to out him through a big position change?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Before the season started I would have agreed with that.  But through his first 105 PA in Tennessee, he’s holding a 9.5% walk rate and a 20% K rate, both career bests.  I’m starting to think he has a better than even chance to reach the majors with his bat rather than his arm.

              • ferrets_bueller

                24 games is an awfully small sample size, though. And 22 Ks in 24 games, at AA, is still quite bad. Not to mention that scary 3-9 in SB.

                • King Jeff

                  It’s a pretty big step in the right direction for a guy still learning to play the game. I think you’re 60-70% chance he switches to pitcher to make the big leagues is a little bit high. He has definitely opened my eyes with his natural ability, and he has looked much better at the plate and in the field this year.

  • nkniacc

    I expect 3 or the first 4 picks to be pitchers and atleast SP in any Dempster or Garza trade.

    • Njriv

      I agree, except for the first pick, take the best available, but that could be a pitcher.

    • Assman22

      I wouldn’t say the first pick is a lock for a pitcher, but rounds 2-5 are stocked like a trout farm with pitching.  Could very well take 4 in a row after the first pick.

  • http://None Blinda

    Hey Brett,

    What did you use to create your website?

    Thanks

  • aCubsFan

    I have to believe there is some tie in between the Martinez arrest of yesterday and the Soler free agency announcement today.

  • Assman22

    From BA…..Major League Baseball has declared 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler a free agent, however teams still cannot officially enter into an agreement with him, according to major league sources.

    Soler’s agent, Bart Hernandez of the Praver Shapiro Sports Management group, still must produce an unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or two permanent residency documents from a new country before any deal can be consummated. However, typically when MLB sends out a memo declaring a Cuban player a free agent, full clearance usually isn’t far away, at least among recent notable Cuban defectors.

    Once that happens, Soler will almost certainly sign before July 2, since the new $2.9 million international bonus pools kick in on that date and Soler would be subject to the new rules. However, before July 2, there are no spending restrictions on international free agents.

    Many teams believe that Soler already has a deal done, which would make most of this process no more than scripted theater, although doing so would be both a violation of MLB rules and U.S. federal law.

    Baseball America’s full scouting report on Soler is available here for subscribers. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported Soler’s free agency.

  • Patrick G

    MLB Draft, Trade Rumors and now this?! I knew this season was going to be a wash and this is the stuff that I’ve been waiting for all year. Everything picking up this should be exciting!!

  • Leroy K.

    So Soler can’t sign till July 2nd? Or did I read that wrong?

    • Leroy K.

      never mind, thanks assman. I didn’t read your post at first. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Pingback: Get Ready to Obsess Again: Jorge Soler is Officially a Free Agent … | Baseball News Report()

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    HELL YES!! JORGE IS BACK!!! This is going to dominate my life till July 2 or until he signs. I’m going to be extremely disappointed if he doesnt sign with the cubs. Been following this story for way to long

    • Assman22

      Source:  Soler will sign within the next two weeks.

      • Patrick G

        where did you hear this

  • nkniacc

    his agent wants all offers by June 7 Ben Alder reports

    • Assman22

      My source said something very similar.  His agent is a dickhead, but what agent isn’t these days.  With that  being said, Theo has a good relationship with Praver and no MLB team will want to upstage their top draft pick with a Soler signing anyway so it sort of works out in a sense.  Praver also doesn’t like to wait til the last minute like some other agents.  He’ll be signed to a deal within the next two weeks, period.

      • Cubmig

        The only thing left out Assman22 is a definitive: “He’ll be a Cub in two weeks.” Are you saying that in an oblique way?

        • Assman22

          Cubs are the front runner but in no way are they are sure thing to sign Soler.  All I can say is that Soler will be signed within two weeks.

  • KWAH-dee

    Cubs win SOLER!

  • morgan

    baseball tn did thing best players under 25 and justin upton was on it, the dbacks listened to offers during the summer and if right deal came they prob would trade him, hes also struggled a bit this year so it could make it easier. I say get a 3 team trade where demp throw in maybe barney or soto dejesus maybe a mid prospect and to a team and there prospects go to the dbacks and the Cubs get justin upton

    • Cub Style

      That’s not going to get you Justin Upton.

    • gabriel

      HAHA Justin Upton is a proven elite MLB player, even despite his shortcomings – Starlin Castro wouldn’t even get you Upton

    • Assman22

      Wow…..

    • ferrets_bueller

      Castro plus Garza still would not net Justin Upton.

      • Kyle

        Good, because I’m not sure I’d do Castro for Upton straight up, considering their relative contract situations. I probably would, but I’d have to think pretty hard about it.

        Cubs fans continue to criminally underrate Starlin Castro.

        • gabriel

          Very true – Starlin is in my opinion one of the 10 most valuable players in MLB, and in case no one has noticed his defense has gotten WAY better. He’s already at perennial all-star level, and his potential is just through the roof

      • Cheryl

        I don’t think I’d want Upton. There’s other players out there that would help the cubs more.

  • Ogyu

    Time to start painting my “Soler Power” sign to wave in the bleachers!

  • Daniel

    Just a question…

    Where would a guy like Soler start out? AA?

    • Kyle

      That seems a bit aggressive. Especially given the caution this regime has used, I’d say Daytona is a good fit.

    • Assman22

      Doubtful on Daytona, Soler should start in Peoria but that’s after he goes thru some acclimation in extended ST and maybe even Boise.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It’ll probably depend on his evaluation in Arizona after he signs.  I hope he could jump direct to Daytona, but Peoria is probably more likely.  Regardless, I would expect him to be in the Arizona Fall League.

  • nkniacc

    How are the other Cubans doing that the cubs signed last year anyone know?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Rubi Silva is doing well in Daytona.
      Yaniel Cabezas just started playing in Peoria recently.
      Gerardo Concepcion does well when he throws strikes.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t throw strikes as consistently as he should.
      Elieser Bonne got off to a slowish start, but has been playing quite well in Daytona since then. Given his age, we need to see him against tougher competition before we can render much of a verdict on him.

      I’m probably missing a few.

      • nkniacc

        Thanks Luke. I knew they had a couple that were Soler friends/teammates that they signed so I wondered where they were

      • JulioZuleta

        Balaguert, keep an eye on him.

        • college_of_coaches

          JZ – Do you have any info on Yasiel Balaguer? I assume he’s still in ext-SP?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Peoria actually.  He’s been popping up fairly frequently in the Minor League Dailys since he arrived in Peoria a few days before Baez.

            • college_of_coaches

              A ha, I see now! Thanks Luke, I appreciate your dailys.

  • nkniacc

    I wouldn’t be shocked if he would start in Peoria

  • Toby

    I continue to appreciate the fans that comment on this site than the Trib. It’s much more respectful and much more intelligent arguments. It’s refreshing not to read insult after insult if someone comments. Thank-you. If the Cubs do sign Soler then I doubt he will stay at any one level for a long period of time. He’ll most likely be assigned to ESP then Daytona or Boise, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Soler ends up at AA at the end of the year or starts there next year.

    • Crockett

      I’d be really surprised if he advanced to AA by the end of this year. I could see a Boise start and then either a Peoria or Daytona bump depending on how he’s doing and how the rosters look at the time. I see him at AA at sometime in 2013 and then AAA in 2014 with a possible callup for September of 2014, but a very strong look in 2015. Again, this all assumes no major setbacks or enormous flaws in his game.

    • Cubmig

      Know what you mean Re: Trib site.

    • Rhino70

      I’m right there with you on the comments on this site. It’s so nice to come here and read meaningful baseball comments. I got real tired of the sniping on NSBB, and I’m glad I found this site!

  • nkniacc

    But we are getting ahead of ourselves as the Cubs still have to sign him. Another ? would be does he get a mlb contract that could change the diminsions of the contract and where he would start

  • nkniacc

    I kinda like the line up used in tonights game vs Cain

    • Cubmig

      I do too, but I would like to see Castro lead off. His risp opportunity pressure seems to get the best of him. As lead off, he wouldn’t be under the gun to deliver but concentrate on upping his OBP.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Obviously the pressure of batting with nobody on base is much worse for Castro: after all, he has only a .294/.314/.431 line with nobody on base as opposed to a .338/.324/.485 line with runners are in scoring position.  Of course, given that both lines are essentially identical, one might conclude that the situation if the situation is relevant to how Castro performs, then it will be apparent at far, far greater sample sizes than we can find in one third of a season.  (Replace “Castro” with any other name in MLB, by the way, and the statement is still true.)

        • Cubmig

          Stats get in the way of my feelings—-like those that came last night when I saw Campana at 3rd with no outs and Castro K’ed. He also didn’t come through the next time in an risp situation either. Then, when he led off the inning in his next at bat, he got on. I understand what you’re saying but I still remain conflicted.

          • King Jeff

            Campana was on second with no outs, moved to third on Castro’s K, but I agree with your point. He does seem to have a better approach when he’s up there with no one on. Then again, he does have 32 rbi’s, so he’s doing something right up there.

  • Cheryl

    Castro is basically an impatient hitter. It appears as if he thinks that everything is up to him. If he’s first in the lineup – he has to get on and that dominates his thoughts in terms of his being leadoff. He’s better suited for second in the lineup because he has the pressure of only one person ahead of him. When Campagna is on base, he doesn’t want to take pitches and give him time to steal.As he matures, he’ll probably be better at waiting on pitches but right now it holds him back. But it may take a while for him to get beyond this stage. It’s frustrating because sometimes he comes off as only interested in Castro.

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