With the draft now over, Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have admittedly shifted their focus to making changes to the Major League roster. Those changes likely include finding suitors for Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, and potentially Matt Garza while also creating openings for the likes of outfielder Brett Jackson and first baseman Anthony Rizzo to ascend to the Major League level.
Before the Cubs even make any trade to bring in some prospects to beefen up the team’s farm system, Epstein and Hoyer may sign a free agent that will significantly improve the Cubs’ minor league system.
That free agent is Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. The same Soler that has been linked to the Cubs since before Spring Training. Soler has officially been declared as a free agent of Major League Baseball and it is believed that the outfielder has established residency in Haiti. Meaning all that is left is for Soler to sign on the dotted line of his first contract with a Major League Baseball team.
The signature should be taking place soon. Soler worked out for team including the Cubs on Wednesday, and teams were believed to have submitted their initial bids for the outfielder by Thursday. There is going to be a second round of bidding. Reports have suggested that Soler and his representatives are taking another round offers by those teams that are interested in the Cuban outfielder. The second round of bidding should conclude by the end of the weekend.
The three teams that are believed to be the favorites for Soler are the Cubs, New York Yankees, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Recent speculation has also placed the Los Angeles Dodgers among the final group of bidders for Soler’s services.
The Cubs are not strangers to this type of process. Remember in the off-season, the Cubs were believed to be among the final bidders for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The 26 year old Cespedes signed a four year, $36 million contract with the Oakland Athletics prior to the start of Spring Training.
Even though the Cubs had an apparent interest in Cespedes, the belief has always been that they favored Soler over Cespedes. That is a sentiment that is being echoed by some scouts around Major League Baseball. Soler, who is six years younger than Cespedes, is believed to have a higher ceiling than the current Athletics’ outfielder. Soler projects as a five-tool center fielder with above average power and speed. To provide a little perspective I asked Bleacher Nation writer Luke Blaize on twitter how Soler would rank in comparison to the 2012 draft class, Blaize replied by saying that Soler would project in the top 5. In addition, Blaize said for the Cubs, Soler would be slightly ahead of sixth overall draft pick Albert Almora.
Soler should pick his new team within the next couple of weeks. Reason being, Soler would want his contract to be under the previous collective bargaining agreement before new restrictions are put in place on July 2 when CBA that was agreed upon this past off-season takes effect. Soler has been seeking a four year contract that is worth anywhere from $20 million to $35 million. Ironically, it was reported earlier this year that the Cubs and Soler had a “wink-wink” deal in place that was worth $27 million over the course of four years. Now, sources told the New York Post that the Cubs are expected to land Soler. Could that same deal still be in place?