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Jorge Soler Rumors
The 22-year-old Soler entered the season ranked as a consensus Top 50 prospect in all of baseball, and while a pair of hamstring injuries has limited him to 61 games, he still ranked 28th on the midseason edition of Keith Law’s Top 50 prospects list over at ESPN.com. Soler has obliterated Rookie-level, Double-A and Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .338/.432/.687 batting line, belting 14 homers, 23 doubles and two triples in just 234 plate appearances.
Law called Soler a “monster if he can just stay on the field,” praising his “electric” bat speed and plus-plus raw power in his midseason scouting report. He also noted that Soler had the offensive ability to profile as a top-10 prospect, but his troubles staying on the field prevented him from being ranked any higher than 28th overall. Additionally, he points out that Soler has the arm and athleticism to profile as an average or better defensive right fielder.
Soler becomes the next elite Cubs prospect to make the jump to the Major Leagues, joining shortstop/second baseman Javier Baez and second baseman/center fielder Arismendy Alcantara. Baez has played second base since his recall (a spot vacated by the trade of Darwin Barney), while Alcantara has shifted to center field. Presumably, Soler will be playing right field at the Major League level, as he has throughout his minor league career.
Soler has already made plenty of headlines in his career, as the Cuban phenom inked a nine-year, $30MM contract with the Cubs back in 2012 just days before the collective bargaining agreement’s new rules on international signings kicked in. Had Soler signed after those rules, as a 20-year-old from Cuba, he would have been limited to a $2.9MM signing bonus.
Soler is guaranteed $2MM in 2014 after earning $1MM in 2012 and 2013. He will earn $2MM in 2015 before his salary rises to $3MM in 2016 and 2017. Soler is technically slated to earn $4MM annually from 2018-20, but his contract allows him to opt into arbitration once he is eligible. The contract, of course, seems light when compared to the contracts signed by Jose Abreu and Rusney Castillo, but keep in mind that Cespedes was 26 when he signed his deal and Abreu was 27.
Because of Soler’s guaranteed contract, the Cubs needn’t worry about service time considerations or Super Two status like they would need to with top prospects such as Kris Bryant and Addison Russell. Additionally, his Major League deal meant that he was already on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs don’t need to concern themselves with clearing a 40-man spot.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The next game that Aramis Ramirez plays will be the 2,000th of his Major League career, but the Brewers‘ third baseman doesn’t sound like he plans on calling it quits anytime soon. Ramirez told reporters today, including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, that he plans to try to play another 500 games: “I’m going to go for 2,500 (games) so let’s see what happens. … I’m playing past this year, for sure. I don’t know how much longer but definitely more years.” Ramirez’s contract contains a $14MM mutual option with a $4MM buyout. Given the rarity with which mutual options are exercised, there seems to be a good chance that Ramirez could hit the open market as a free agent this winter.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- The Pirates are scouting the Diamondbacks‘ bullpen of late, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, who speculates that old friend Oliver Perez could be a potential target for the Bucs.
- The Reds and Phillies remain in contact regarding a potential Marlon Byrd trade, sources tell Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN (Twitter link). The Reds have Jay Bruce in right and Billy Hamilton in left, but their left fielders have combined to hit .242/.304/.358. Additionally, with Bruce’s slumping and Joey Votto on the disabled list, the team is short on power.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer tells Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that Arismendy Alcantara will likely be in the lineup everyday, splitting time between second base and center field. The Cubs designated defensive specialist Darwin Barney for assignment yesterday, which should clear some playing time for the 22-year-old Alcantara.
- Alcantara isn’t the only Cubs prospect on the rise. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets that outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora have each moved up a level, with Almora heading to Double-A Tennessee and Soler reaching Triple-A Iowa.
- David Price, who recently took in a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the fans of St. Louis were great and treated him well in his time there. One high-ranking AL exec tells Nightengale that if the Rays decide to move their ace, the Cardinals stand out as the most likely team to acquire him.
- MLB.com’s Jen Langosch was among the reporters who spoke to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak yesterday. Langosch writes that the Redbirds are pursuing rotation help as the deadline approaches, but Mozeliak cautioned that no deal is imminent. Asked if the club was pursuing a top-of-the-rotation arm or some depth for the back end, Mozeliak replied that the latter was more likely.
The five NL Central clubs' possible trade deadline moves are highlighted by Grantland's Jonah Keri in his weekly MLB power rankings. The Cubs have several trade chips to sell while the Brewers may move some relievers at the deadline but wait until the offseason to decide if they're going to truly rebuild, Keri writes. The Pirates have made deadline additions in each of the past two seasons and have a few clear needs now, though Keri says the current team is good enough to get just a minor upgrade or maybe even stand pat. The Reds and Cardinals both need bullpen help, with Keri noting that the Cards are deep enough that they can get by with Pete Kozma at shortstop.
Here's the latest from around the division…
- The Cubs are close to parting ways with Ian Stewart, sources tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, with "the resolution allowing him to move to another organization is expected to come within a couple of days." The move seemed inevitable after Stewart was suspended by the team after he criticized the Cubs organization in a Twitter rant. Heyman wasn't sure if any financial concessions are involved in the move though since Stewart's deal is guaranteed, he isn't obligated to give back any of the approximately $1MM remaining on his 2013 contract.
- Gerrit Cole may get sent down to Triple-A once A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez return to the Pirates rotation, GM Neal Huntington hinted during his Sunday radio program (passed on by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). Since Cole and Jeff Locke are the only Bucs starters with minor league options remaining, Huntington said “there's a business component to it, as far as keeping our depth….if we need another starter (due to injury) later, it may make sense to send Gerrit back so we have a sixth quality starter.” While Huntington said that Cole's possible Super Two status won't be a factor in the team's decision, a demotion would guarantee that Cole doesn't receive another year of arbitration eligibility.
- Yasiel Puig's instant stardom has raised expectations for the Cubs' own Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, though CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney outlines how the Cubs are taking a more measured approached to Soler's development.
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch also expects the Cardinals to get some bullpen help before the trade deadline, though it's likely to be a smaller-name reliever than Jonathan Papelbon, who isn't a fit in St. Louis for several reasons. Langosch also covers a few other Cards topics as part of this reader mailbag piece.
- It’s doubtful the Yankees will view the Cubs as a particularly strong match for their outfield needs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Even if the Yankees did want to trade for Soriano, they’d need his approval. The left fielder told Wittenmyer that he hasn’t given the Cubs an updated list of teams to which he’d accept trades. Though Soriano enjoyed playing for the Yankees earlier in his career, he didn’t approve them as a trade destination last summer.
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger notes that the Yankees could get by without acquiring a player like Soriano. McCullough writes that it's still worth exploring potential deals in case the sides can work out a trade.
- Darnell McDonald, Scott Hairston and Soriano agree that Jorge Soler has the potential to be an MLB star, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Soler, an outfield prospect who turns 21 today, signed a $30MM deal with the Cubs last year. Team president Theo Epstein says Soler has the makings of a complete player. "What has been really impressive, all last year and so far in camp, is how into defense and baserunning he is," Epstein said.
The Cubs have officially signed Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com (via Twitter). General Manager Jed Hoyer says that Soler, 20, will start in the minors as a rightfielder with no timetable to come to Chicago, Padilla tweets.
The Cubs won the bidding for Soler with a nine-year deal worth roughly $30MM earlier this month. The two sides wound up cutting it close as Soler had until tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. to ink the deal with Chicago or lose approximately $27MM. Any international deal signed after Sunday can only be for a maximum of $2.9MM under the new rules.
The Praver Shapiro Sports Management client also had interest from a number of other clubs, including the Phillies, Astros, Pirates, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays. Chicago can now add Soler to the 40-man roster after designating Randy Wells for assignment.
It was on this day in 1973 that Cardinals infielder Joe Torre hit for the cycle in a 15-4 rout of the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. The future Yankees manager would complete the feat by hitting a single with two outs in the ninth inning. Torre would go on to play in the All-Star Game for the ninth and final time a few weeks later. Let's check in on the latest news and headlines out of the National League Central…
- The Astros have benefited greatly from buying low on shortstop Jed Lowrie as he's found his groove with Houston after injuries plagued his time with the Red Sox, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. New general manager Jeff Luhnow made the trade to get Lowrie upon being hired by the Astros and in his mind, he's acquired a player who can be one of the top five shortstops in the league on an annual basis.
- Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com expects the Cubs to add Jorge Soler to the team's 40-man roster upon his official signing after designating Randy Wells for assignment on Wednesday. Soler has until July 1 at 11:59 p.m. to sign the deal with Chicago or he stands to lose approximately $27MM as any international deal signed after that date can only be for a maximum of $2.9MM.
- The Cardinals are nearing their draft pool bonus cap and don't want to put themselves in a position where they lose a 2013 draft pick as two players remain unsigned, says Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Earlier today we learned that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos asked the Twins about Justin Morneau. However, one exec noted that Anthopoulos seems to "[call] about everyone." Here's more on the Blue Jays and the rest of the division..
- Anthopoulos isn't worried about any criticism that may come his way, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Even though the GM knows that the club has to show progress on the field, he insists that he won't be swayed by popular opinion and won't rush into making a move.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter) spoke to a scout who didn't have a very high opinion of where the Phillies stand or what they can offer in a trade. “They’re not young. They’re not healthy. And their system is thin," the scout said.
- The Braves were right there with the Cubs and willing to spend $30MM on Jorge Soler, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB.com. The White Sox and Yankees, meanwhile, had bids that fell between $25MM and $30MM.
The Dodgers officially announced their five-year, $85MM extension with Andre Ethier this afternoon on a day that featured lots of draft news. Here are some of Tuesday’s non-draft-related links, starting in Los Angeles…
- Mark Teahen can opt-out of his minor league contract with the Nationals if not called up by June 15th, MLBTR has learned. The 30-year-old has hit .293/.347/.404 with Washington's Triple-A affiliate while playing all four corner spots.
- Jorge Soler is still in the process of securing a visa prior to officially signing with the Cubs, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter). That could take about a week.
- The Dodgers’ deal with Ethier could eliminate them from the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes after the season, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (Twitterlinks). This could limit Hamilton’s leverage with the Rangers whenever the sides resume contract talks.
- Olney points to the abundance of quality outfielders nearing free agency and suggests it makes sense for the players to accept deals now instead of waiting for what could be a buyer’s market.
- There are no new developments in contract discussions between Cole Hamels and the Phillies or Zack Greinke and the Brewers, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- GM Sandy Alderson told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that the Mets haven't drawn up plans to buy or sell this summer. Davidoff suggests that the Mets could decide to stay the course at the upcoming trade deadline.
- One scout watched Kevin Youkilis play and wasn’t impressed, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). "For what he costs, he can't do anything," the scout said.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
5:30pm: Heyman adds another caveat to Soler's deal (Twitter link). Soler will be allowed to opt out of the agreed-upon salaries and go to arbitration once he is eligible. That scenario would likely push the total value of the deal beyond $30MM.
1:48pm: Soler and the Cubs agreed to a nine-year deal worth approximately $30MM, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. At least three or four teams placed bids of $20MM plus, according to Heyman. Depending on how long Soler spends at the minor league level, the deal could cover all of his arbitration seasons and multiple free agent years.
Soler can opt out of his yearly salaries and file for arbitration once eligible, ESPN.com's Keith Law reports. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains, this means Soler could earn more than $30MM with the Cubs.
Soler has to sign by July 2 if he aims to maximize his earning potential and avoid spending restrictions imposed under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement. It's not clear what kind of bonus the Praver Shapiro Sports Management client will obtain from the Cubs, but a sum in excess of $15MM would not be surprising.
MLB declared Soler a free agent earlier this month after verifying his paperwork. The Phillies have since offered him a contract and the Astros, Pirates, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays also appeared to have some level of interest in the 20-year-old.
Soler was an up-and-coming power hitter in Cuba before leaving the country, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. His calling card is right-handed power, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America, who considers him a top-50 prospect in MLB.
Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler could sign any day now. A number of teams have been linked to Soler, who must sign by July 2 if he aims to maximize his earning potential and avoid the spending restrictions that will soon take effect. Here’s the latest on Soler:
- The Phillies have maintained a stealth pursuit of Soler and have made him an offer, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports (on Twitter).
- Some competing executives see the Cubs as the favorite for Soler, Heyman tweets.
- The Dodgers are no longer engaged on Soler, Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports (on Twitter). ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported late last week that the Dodgers were among his most aggressive suitors.
- The Blue Jays are said to be in the mix for Soler, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Heyman notes that the Cubs and Yankees also appear to be involved.