Bears

Cubs setting sights on Jorge Soler

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Cubs setting sights on Jorge Soler

MILWAUKEE The Cubs werent surprised to hear Albert Almora using the Scott Boras playbook and saying his main priority is going to the University of Miami.

Its all part of the negotiations. Besides, the immediate focus is on another dynamic young outfielder the Cubs would love to pair with the No. 6 overall pick.

The Cubs were one of several teams that had representatives at Wednesdays workout for Jorge Soler, the Cuban defector who was finally declared a free agent after months of anticipation.

Weve obviously scouted him extensively a lot of teams have, general manager Jed Hoyer said. We had a similar situation with (Yoenis) Cespedes this winter and itll be intriguing. But certainly weve done our work on him. That doesnt make us unique. Thats our responsibility (to) scout him heavily and get to know him and weve tried to do that.

Weve been following this carefully and we certainly plan to be involved.

The Cubs felt like they established a level of trust with Cespedes, another Cuban defector who wound up with a four-year, 36 million deal from the Oakland As. The Cubs were comfortable with the money, but wanted it spread over a longer term.

Soler represents the last talent grab before the cap on international signings kicks in July 2, a key detail in the new collective bargaining agreement that could spark a bidding war among a wide field of teams.

Its not surprising, Hoyer said. Hes really talented and there is that July 2 uniqueness, which adds to it.

The Cubs keep saying that they need to add impact talent to the organization. The draft ended Wednesday, and as advertised they went after power arms. Of their 42 selections, 22 are pitchers.

The Cubs dont appear to be worried about signing Almora, who is being advised by Boras, the most powerful agent in the business.

Almora has always sought out higher levels of competition, making the Mater Academy varsity as an eighth-grader, playing for the elite travel teams in South Florida and winning five gold medals for Team USA.

We got to know Albert really well, Hoyer said. We spent a lot of time with him and we felt really comfortable with the background information that we had on him.

The Cubs certainly had unique insight into their 39th-round pick, an infielder from Desert Mountain High School in Arizona. Rustin Sveum got a call from his father and let out a big scream.

That was one of those proud days, Dale Sveum said. But hes still got to develop and he better not sign. He better go to college.

Whatever happens the next four years, hell always be able to say he got drafted by the Chicago Cubs. It will always be on your resume.

Rustin is committed to go to Dixie State College of Utah. The Cubs manager laughed when a reporter asked if his sons a Boras guy: Hes a Sveum guy.

The Cubs intend to bring Almora to Chicago this summer and have him take batting practice with the team. As Hoyer said, A place like Wrigley sells itself.

Where Solers people can demand Cespedes money, Almora and Boras are restricted by the labor deal. The assigned value is 3.25 million, and the Cubs cant go much higher than that without being severely penalized.

But Almora, Soler and a few players weve never heard of before could become part of the foundation at Clark and Addison.

I think every team feels good about their draft today, Hoyer said, and well find out in five years if we were right.

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

A tie is all that separates the Bears from the rest of the NFC North division. Chicago’s Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped the team to 3-2, which just barely leaves them in first place.

Because the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings tied in Week 2, they sit just behind the Bears at 3-2-1 in the division. The Week 5 bye week also kept Chicago a little bit ahead, but they’re only a game away from dropping down to third.

They still control their own destiny, but Matt Nagy will need an upset win over the New England Patriots on Sunday to maintain their leading position. The Packers are on a bye week, so they would assume first place if the Bears lose.

The Vikings take on the New York Jets for a chance to take sole possession of the NFC North crown, but Chicago is guaranteed to stay ahead of the Detroit Lions, who also have a bye week.

These early season losses are tough on a Bears team trying to grow a division lead before they take on their NFC North foes midseason. The bigger cushion they can build now, the more wiggle room they’ll have when they face the Lions, Vikings and Lions back-to-back-to-back in November.

White Sox Talk Podcast: What it would take for the White Sox to sign Manny Machado

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What it would take for the White Sox to sign Manny Machado

It might be a long shot for the White Sox to sign free agent Manny Machado, but here on the White Sox Talk Podcast, we like dark horses. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss what it would take to bring Machado to the South Side. Plus, is he "the" guy the White Sox are targeting this offseason? Will the Rockies listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado a year before he reaches free agency? Plus, Chuck talks about a cost-controlled, All-Star on a rebuilding team that could be an answer at third base.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: