Here’s a name we haven’t talked about this off-season, apart from the two times it’s already appeared in this post, if you include the title: Jorge Soler.
The little-photographed Cuban [Note: seriously, internet, WTF?] has been overshadowed by his older, more expensive compatriot, Yoenis Cespedes, now a member of the Oakland A’s, but Soler is no slouch himself– albeit much farther from the Majors. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus explained in the preamble to his Top 101 Prospects list that he would rank 38th or 39th, which would make him the third best prospect in the Jays organization– in Goldstein’s view– behind Travis d’Arnaud and Jake Marisnick.
That is, if they were to sign him.
And apparently they’re interested, as Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that “on Wednesday morning, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and members of his front office watched the 19-year-old Soler — along with Cuban pitcher Armando Rivero, outfielder Henry Urrutia and left-handed pitcher Omar Luis — work out at the club’s complex in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic, according to an industry source.”
Of course, they’re not the only ones, as the Orioles are also due to watch Soler, and the “Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Phillies and Cubs have also expressed interest,” Sanchez writes. The Cubs were reported to have come to a $28-million agreement with Soler– who isn’t even a free agent yet, as he’s just established residency in the Dominican Republic, and still has some hurdles to clear before it will be legal for an MLB club to sign him.
In an Ask BA column back in December, Jim Callis of Baseball America said that Soler may actually be a better prospect than Cespedes– younger and with five-tool potential. He compares him to Royals prospect Bubba Starling, the fifth pick in 2011, and says he’d expect both to be in the 11-20 range on his next top prospects list. Coupled with the fact that he may be the last major international free agent to hit the market before the severe spending restrictions of the new CBA come into place June 2nd, and it should make for a hefty payday for Soler– as the reported $28-million deal suggests.
Would the Jays pay such a premium for that kind of a talent? I’m not too sure. If money was no object, probably yes. But as it sometimes feels like things stand now, it’s hard to believe that they’ll be players, and aren’t simply doing their due diligence
Yet, it’s important to remember that the club did spend $10-million on Adeiny Hechavarria, and that Anthopoulos has said that he regrets not going quite to the $30.25-million level it took the Reds to get Aroldis Chapman. Plus, we know how they feel about toolsy young athletes, and they certainly couldn’t see it as a problem to have too many of those, given the way they’ve spoken about using prospect capital to facilitate trades. I wouldn’t rule them out– even if a quick trip around the internet shows that Cubs fans seem to think that Soler becoming theirs is, at this point, essentially a formality.