The Cubs came to terms with Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler Monday, months after the rumors started to swirl.
The baseball world has been abuzz with the news all day, but Cubs fans are wondering -- and rightfully so -- just who this guy is.
Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney has called Soler the "international man of mystery." And he's right. There's not much the general public knows about the 20-year-old Cuban.
As for size, Soler is somewhere north of 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and still growing.
Talent-wise, Soler might have been a Top Five pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and was likely a Top 10 pick in the '11 Draft, according to both Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus) and Keith Law (ESPN Insider).
Soler has been playing some center field now, but he projects as more of a right fielder in the future. Law believes he could be a good defender in right and describes his body as "loose and athletic, something he should retain even if he puts on another 20 pounds of muscle."
Soler's biggest draw is his bat, with raw power that has impressed scouts. Goldstein says Soler will swing and miss and is stiff so far at the plate, but has shown some ability to adjust in international play.
Jim Callis from BaseballAmerica joined David Kaplan on WGNRadio Monday night, and discussed the impact Cuban players have had in the MLB thus far.
"Most of your high-profile Cuban defectors don't live up to all the hype," Callis said. "Alexei Ramirez is one exception. We all remember Jose Contreras. He had some nice moments in this town. It's very early, but Gerardo Concepcion, who the Cubs signed for 7 million in the offseason has not looked like he's been worth 7 this spring.
"These guys get over-hyped a lot of times. From a tool standpoint, you're talking to scouts and Soler has a front arm bar that cuts off his swing a little bit. There's some question as to how high of an average he's going to hit for. He's very, very similar -- younger, but very similar -- to Yoenis Cespedes, who the A's signed earlier this year."
Entering play Monday, Cespedes had an .826 OPS for the Athletics in 145 plate appearances. But of course, he's 26 and was more major-league ready when he signed last winter. Soler is just 20.
So when is the earliest Cubs fans could expect to see Soler roam the outfield at Clark and Addison, assuming he fulfills his potential?
Goldstein says a big-league debut in 2014 is not out of the question, but the most optimistic of scenarios. Law believes Soler's approach will be the determining factor as to how soon the slugger will reach the majors.
Callis felt 2014 was a good projection.
"I would say at least a couple of years," Callis said. "He's only 20. He doesn't have a long history of playing against good competition. He hasn't played in a while since he's defected. He's young and he's going to need time to develop.
"I'd say conservatively, at least two years. If he's in the lineup by the end of 2014, he'll be 22. That's a pretty good accomplishment to get into a major-league lineup by the time you're 22. We're probably talking a good couple years at least."
It's not a move that will help the Cubs climb out of the cellar of the NL Central this season, but it fits with the long-term plan of Theo Epstein and the new front office, as Mooney pointed out.