As I suspected, Jorge Soler’s agents weren’t going to be content to simply say to interested teams, “Make us your best offer, and we’ll just take the best one.” It’s never that simple.
Instead, it appears that they want to go back to the well, and ask teams to up their bids (including theoretically asking the already-high-bidder to up its bid (bidding against itself)). From Buster Olney:
The representatives for Jorge Soler have said the next round of bids for the Cuban free-agent outfielder needs to happen this weekend, according to sources.
Soler’s agents Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro had given clubs a deadline of June 7 to submit sealed bids. It was not initially clear if the agents have narrowed the field for this next bidding process.
The Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers all have been aggressive in pursuit of the 19-year-old, sources say.
The Cubs have invested the most time in getting to know Soler, but the Dodgers might be a wild card because of the team’s new ownership and commitment to the international market, according to sources.
Ah, the Dodgers. For a while now, folks have been asking me whether I thought the delay put the Cubs in a worse position than they were a few months ago. My gut answer has been to say something like, “it would have been nice to lock him down back when the Cubs seemed to be the most heavily involved, but even back then, teams knew what it was going to cost, so I’m not sure why a few months of waiting would make teams suddenly more interested.”
But I hadn’t thought about the Dodgers. That few months makes a world of difference to them. Why? Because they’ve since been taken over by a new and aggressive ownership group. They’ve got money to burn, and this will be their first chance to show everyone they’re serious.
Will they go balls out on Soler? Hard to say. They haven’t been connected to him in the past and they haven’t – according to any report I’ve seen – been doing the legwork on the personal relationship for months like the Cubs (and presumably other teams) have. So, if they want to sign him, they’ll probably have to blow other offers away … something they’re certainly capable of doing.
I can’t help but wonder, though, if the public relations side of things militates more in favor of the Cubs going nuts than the Dodgers. Yes, the Dodgers new ownership group would like to announce itself to the baseball world and make a splash for a fan base that has been brutalized by its previous owner. And, yes, the Dodgers would undoubtedly like to acquire a player like Jorge Soler. But, the thing is, most Dodgers fans don’t even know who Jorge Soler is. Flip around a few Dodgers blogs and message boards, and you get the sense that they’re just now hearing of this kid, and they think, “sure, why not sign him if he’s good?” Those fans have bigger fish to fry right now; namely, they’ve got a pennant race to watch.
The Cubs, on the other hand, are suffering through an abysmal season, and went through an offseason that, while productive, lacked any real sex appeal. They’ve got a fan base that has been rabidly salivating at the thought of Soler for half a year. Don’t mistake me: I’m not saying the PR is *the* reason for the signing. I’m simply saying that, when comparing the Dodgers and the Cubs’ PR reasons for making a crazy huge offer, the scale certainly tips in favor of the Cubs.
(A couple of small, Soler bits that are parenthetical-worthy: (1) Peter Gammons was apparently on the radio saying he thinks Soler signs with the Cubs (shrug); and (2) Jerry Crasnick says he looked into the whole Soler-Haitian-residency-documents thing, and concluded that it was a non-story (good).)