Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler becomes MLB free agent
Buzzed-about 20-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler is a free agent and eligible to sign with any major league club, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.
Source: Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, 20, is now a free agent, eligible to sign with any club.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 2, 2012
Rosenthal thinks there could be a bidding war for Soler. He defected in 2011 and is now cleared by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Soler has been compared with Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a fellow 2011 Cuban defector that signed a four-year ,$36 million deal with the A's in March. Cespedes is batting .248 with five homers and a .317 on-base percentage so far this season.
Soler would likely command slightly less money, because he is six years younger than Cespedes and not ready to step into a major-league lineup.
Some teams, like the Boston Red Sox, reportedly preferred Soler to Cespedes in the offseason. They'll likely be involved in the bidding this time around, along with the Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles and, of course, the New York Yankees.
Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein hypothetically ranked Soler about 20 spots down from Cespedes on a top prospects list, projecting him as a right fielder with an incredible amount of raw power. In December, Baseball America's Jim Callis called Soler an "athlete with five-tool potential."
Soler needs to sign with a team by July 2 to avoid being subject to the new international signing cap in the MLB's collective bargaining agreement. Goldstein doesn't seem to think that will be a problem, reporting on Twitter that Soler's agent has set a deadline of June 7 for teams' bids.
Source indicates that Jorge Soler's agent, Barry Praver, has requested that offers for his client be submitted by Thursday, June 7. — Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) June 2, 2012