After speaking with two highly placed MLB sources this morning, here is the latest on the Cubs pursuit of 19-year-old Cuban star Jorge Soler.
Soler has not yet had all of his paperwork approved and is not yet eligible to sign a deal. He is expected to sign a longer term deal than Yoenis Cespedes, who agreed yesterday to a four-year deal with the Oakland A's for 36 million dollars.
Soler is a definite project -- albeit a very skilled player -- but there is no chance that he will be making a major league team out of spring training. At this point, he is not yet considered a free agent eligible to sign with a major league team.
The top contenders to sign him are the Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers and Marlins. However, several other teams are also involved in the bidding for him. He is close friends with Gerardo Concepcion, a left-handed pitcher from Cuba who agreed to a deal with the Cubs last week.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Co. have made multiple trips to the Dominican Republic to see Soler and the Cubs are considered one of the frontrunners to land him. In fact, the Cubs have spent time meeting with Soler's agent, Barry Praver, who is also the agent for former Cub Carlos Zambrano.
However, according to a highly placed source, talk of him already agreeing to a deal with the Cubs are not accurate and the reports from the Dominican Republic of a four-year deal for 27.5 million dollars with Chicago are ludicrous. The Cubs are expected to be insistent on a longer deal if he wants to sign with them, but the dollars could fall into that range.
The Cubs were very close to the A's offer in terms of dollars on Cespedes, but along with several other teams, were not willing to give him a four-year deal as opposed to a six-year deal.
Most teams that were involved in the bidding for Cespedes wanted a longer deal so that they could start him in the minor leagues and let him get acclimated to professional baseball in the United States. With only a four-year deal at 9 million per season, the pressure to push him to the big leagues would be very intense and could have a significant negative impact on his development as a player.
If he struggles, you have a major financial commitment to a player that isn't worth that type of money. If he is a superstar, he is a free agent much more quickly and he would become a huge financial commitment very soon down the road to keep him from testing free agency at the end of his four-year deal.