Jorge Soler Rumors
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.
2:15 pm: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports the Soler decision could come within the next 24-36 hours, according to executives interested in the Cuban outfielder. Heyman has been told final bids are due today.
10:19 am: Outfielder Jorge Soler is expected to agree on a four-year deal before tomorrow, an industry source told George A. King III and Mike Puma of the New York Post. Meanwhile, the representative for Soler is calling to ask teams if their bids are final, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
The Yankees, Cubs, Braves, and Dodgers have been among the most aggressive teams in their pursuit of Soler, according to Olney. The Yankees are said to have bid heavy on Soler while other teams view the Cubs as the favorite, Olney tweets. King III and Puma note that the Yankees don’t have a Plan B if they lose Nick Swisher in free agency and Soler would certainly cost less than chasing Josh Hamilton.
Plenty of other teams have been linked to Soler, including the Astros, Pirates, Indians, Red Sox, Phillies, and Blue Jays. The Mets and Marlins, meanwhile, aren't pursuing the outfielder.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top ten managers in baseball. Don Mattingly of the Dodgers tops the list as he has the club off to a surprising 38-22 record, putting them four games above the Giants in the NL West. Robin Ventura (White Sox), Terry Collins (Mets), Bobby Valentine (Red Sox), and Buck Showalter (Orioles) round out the top five. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Only Kevin Towers knows for sure if the inconsistent Justin Upton could ever be available in a deal. However, a few baseball evaluators wouldn’t mind tempting the Diamondbacks with a package. Arizona doesn't need pitching, so the Red Sox can't use someone like Clay Buchholz to get him.
- The Phillies may be more interested in Will Middlebrooks than Kevin Youkilis, a major league source told Cafardo. However, it doesn't look like the Red Sox would have interest in dealing Middlebrooks.
- The Orioles' new six-year, $85MM deal with Adam Jones has led to speculation on how the Red Sox will approach Jacoby Ellsbury, who can be a free agent after the 2013 season. However, there's reason for both sides to wait. As an Oregon native who shuns the spotlight, Ellsbury may want a quieter market. The Sox, meanwhile, would want to see Ellsbury stay healthy for a while before committing 6-8 years to him.
- While the Mariners haven’t given indications that they will sell off veteran pieces, teams are targeting them as a seller. The M's have already received some inquiries for Brandon League.
- The Rays have to be looking for a middle infielder, which are extremely hard to come by. Tampa Bay is anxious to upgrade from the defensive play of Sean Rodriguez.
- The Red Sox really like Jorge Soler, but they don’t appear to be the front-runners for him.