Despite logic suggesting that the Cubs wouldn’t sign Fielder or Pujols, there was always speculation that the Cubs were in the sweepstakes for both of the free agent first basemen. Through this speculation, there was a discussion created. The discussion revolved around what type of player would Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts, president Theo Epstein, and general manager Jed Hoyer be willing to give a long-term deal. Long-term meaning a seven, eight, or nine year deal.
The Cubs front office was rather mum on the topic. Though Ricketts, Epstein, and Hoyer all agreed that if they were going to give out such a deal they would have to ensure that they are paying for the player’s future performance and not his past performance.
Judging by that criteria, Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler’s deal with the Chicago Cubs should not come as any surprise. After news broke on Sunday that Soler was close to signing a four year deal with a Major League team, it was expected that we would learn of Soler’s fate on Monday. That we did. Soler did sign a contract with a Major League team on Monday and it was with the Chicago Cubs. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodger were among the final bidders, but the Cubs were not going to let Soler escape from their grasp. The Cubs have had a sight out for Soler since the early days of the Epstein era back in November.
The final selling point in Soler’s decision to sign with the Cubs may have been the security that the Cubs are going to provide for the Cuban outfielder. Marking the first contract of it’s kind in the history of the Cubs’ organization, the Cubs and Soler agreed to a nine year, $3o million contract on Monday. There is a slight catch to Soler’s contract. Soler has the option to opt out of the financial terms of his contract during his arbitration eligible years, and thus the contract total could easily exceed $30 million. It is important to note that the opt out is not for free agency rather the financial terms of his contract meaning the Cubs will have nine full seasons of control over Soler.
The 6’3, 225-pound Soler has scouts raving about his talent. Soler has plus tools in almost every aspect of his game, and also posses a considerable amount of raw power. As of now, Soler is a center fielder. But the thought is that Soler could easily transition into a power hitter once he gains more muscle, such a transformation would signal a move to a corner outfield spot for Soler. Soler is expected to move rapidly through the Cubs farm system and the early projections for his Major League debut appear to be late 2014, early 2015. The biggest factor that will determine the 2o year old’s rise through the Cubs’ system is the development of his hitting ability. While Soler has plus bat speed, hand placement and power, the Cuban outfielder has not competed in organized baseball in nearly two years. Meaning the Cubs front office will have to see how Soler handles breaking pitches, and the various nuances that come with being a professional hitter.
Some may be scratching their heads at the fact that the Cubs gave Soler a nine year deal. I, for one, think it was a good deal for the Cubs. Reason being the Cubs are paying for Soler’s future performance rather than anything he has done in the past, not to mention that the Cubs will have control of Soler during most of his prime seasons. The addition of Soler, the drafting of Albert Almora, the potential returns for the likes of Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, and a likely top three pick in next year’s draft will transcend the Cubs’ farm system to a point that it has never reached in the history of the organization.