Blackhawks

Was the price right for Soler?

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Was the price right for Soler?

Jorge Soler hasn't seen one pitch in professional baseball. He hasn't fielded one fly ball, taken one round of BP. He hasn't even put on a uniform in America yet.

So how does a guy like that earn 30 million?

Simple: That's what the market was.

"Soler's deal is kind of like on an island by itself," Baseball America's Jim Callis said when he joined David Kaplan on WGN Radio Monday night. "He was the last big-time international free agent who's not going to be subject to the new bonus rules. Going forward, if you're under 21 or 22, 2.9 million is the max. In the future, there's going to be a sliding scale. If you're a better team, you're going to have less than 2.9 million.

"It was a case where you had a lot of the big guns -- the Yankees included -- where they figured 'you know what, this is the last time we're going to be able to go all in on one of these guys.'

"It's just the cost of doing business. If you wanted Jorge Soler, it's going to cost 30 million. If you want Cubs' 2012 first-round pick Albert Almora, it's going to cost 3 million. Last year, with the different draft system, the Cubs spent a franchise-record 12 million."

Soler had until July 2 to sign a deal without any limit to spending by the new CBA. Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes signed a four-year deal worth 36 million last winter with the Oakland Athletics. The Cubs were reportedly in on Cespedes and OK with the money, but they wanted more years on the contract.

Soler's nine-year deal accomplished that. Plus, it just makes more sense, as he's only 20 and still a few years away from the big leagues. Cespedes, meanwhile, is 26 and already starring for the A's.

"Individually, you look at some of these bonuses and they seem kind of crazy,' Callis said. "But the flip side of it is, a lot of these guys -- and Soler is included -- you're not just signing the guy. You're signing the guy and getting his rights for six years in the major leagues before he can go anywhere and become a free agent.

"I think a lot of time, it's easy to look when these guys fail and be like 'oh this guy got 2 million and didn't pan out, that's a terrible investment.' But when you do hit on a guy...I'll use Albert Almora as an example. If he's as good as he's supposed to be, he's probably going to be worth -- conservatively -- 60 or 70 million to the Cubs in the first six years of his career and they'll probably play him something around 20 million in salary over that span.

"It's more of a case when you hit, the return of investment on these guys is huge and it more than makes up for the guys who fail. But when you pay a guy a lot of money and he fails or he doesn't get out of Double-A or something, that really sticks in your crawl. But overall, I think the return of investment on these guys is worth it."

Soler instantly becomes one of the Cubs' top prospects, if not the No. 1 guy, and one of the best position player prospects in the game. Of course, not every promising young player hits, and there are many stories of Cuban players failing to live up to their hype.

But Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts saw their man and they went for it. When he was with the Red Sox, Theo was reportedly very upset when the Yankees outbid his squad for the services of Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras. The new Cubs president of baseball operations wasn't going to let the same thing happen this time around.

"I don't think it's any surprise," Callis said. "You look at what Theo did in Boston and what Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod did in Boston and then in San Diego. There's no surprise that these guys are going to be aggressive in player development. It's a shame, really, that the league changed the rules and you can't be as aggressive as you want to be.

"But if fans weren't convinced that Tom Ricketts was in this to win it, he spent 12 million on last year's draft and was very aggressive internationally and then goes and spends 30 million on Soler. You can't ask for much more of a commitment from your owner. If you're a fan, you want to see your owner spending money on your team. And Ricketts has done that.

"Yes, the big-league team is terrible right now and they're going through a down phase, but he's shown that they're going to do whatever it takes to get the top talent available."

Blackhawks honor Dave Bolland with “One More Shift” Friday

Blackhawks honor Dave Bolland with “One More Shift” Friday

Former Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland will be honored with “One More Shift” on the ice at United Center this Friday prior to Hawks matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Bolland will stand with the team during the National Anthem and skate on ice in full gear. Along with time on ice, the United Center will also honor Bolland by showcasing his career highlights throughout the arena.

The Blackhawks will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their 2010 Stanley Cup win at five games this season, coinciding with “One More Shift” nights to honor individual players.  The United Center Atrium doors will open at 4pm, giving fans a chance to look at the interactive photo opportunities and historical items on display. Bolland will participate in a Q&A in the atrium at 6:30 p.m. before he hits the ice.

Dave Bolland was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004 and spent ten seasons of his NHL career in Chicago. Bolland played with the team during two Stanley Cup championships, scoring the game-winning goal in the final minute of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins. Bolland played in all 22 playoff games in 2010, garnering 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) which shared fifth among Blackhawks skaters in the postseason. Bolland recorded his best season of his career during the 2008-09 campaign with the Blackhawks, skating in a career-high 81 regular-season games and recording career highs in goals (19), assists (28) and points (47).

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Bears reportedly expect Akiem Hicks to come off injured reserve in eight weeks

Bears reportedly expect Akiem Hicks to come off injured reserve in eight weeks

The Bears expect to activate Akiem Hicks off injured reserve as soon as they can — which would be for their Week 15 game against the Green Bay Packers — according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

The NFL requires players placed on injured reserve to spend eight weeks on it before they can be activated. While losing Hicks for half the season certainly presents a significant challenge to the Bears’ defense, that he does not need surgery and is expected to return in 2019 is at least a silver lining. 

The Bears officially placed Hicks on injured reserve Tuesday and promoted offensive lineman Alex Bars from their practice squad. 

While Hicks won’t be on the field for a while, he will be present around Halas Hall and Soldier Field as the Bears, defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said. 

“He’s going to be with us throughout the gameplanning, he’s going to be with us on game day, he’s going to be on the sidelines, all those kinds of things,” Rodgers said. “You’re going to feel the presence of him on the sideline and everything we do from here to whenever that is.”