Image courtesy of USA Today

Last week, the agent of Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler told MLB that his client was officially a free agent and that he wanted all the bids for his client’s services in by June 7th. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the most aggressive teams in the bidding so far are the Cubs, Yankees, Braves, and Dodgers. The Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies and Blue Jays have also been attached to the young phenom at some point or another.

Soler, who is only 20, will in all likelihood be signed before the July 2nd deadline, when the ridiculous (and borderline discriminatory) caps on international spending instituted by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement are officially put into place. Given how harsh the caps and concurrent overage penalties are, Soler could very well be the last big bonus baby to come out of Latin America.

As Jason Parks of the Up and In Podcast said during this week’s episode:

“The apocalypse is coming. This is the last gas station on the road to nothing, alright? And they have one can of food left…there’s a few teams that are going to heavy on him…This kid is in the best position ever.


This is Red Dawn, baby…Get a rifle, you’re drinking deer blood in a minute.”

According to Kevin Goldstein on the same podcast, Soler is a classic rightfield profile, he’s “big, strong and athletic” with a “good swing and plus-plus raw power.”

His talent combined with the Red Dawn apocalypse makes Soler not only a highly sought after prospect, but one that some say could approach the record for the richest contract ever handed to a Cuban amateur player set this winter by A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes was signed to a four-year, $36-million contract by Oakland back in February, but is also seven years older than Soler.

The problem with that line of thinking, however, is that Soler is not yet close to Major League-ready. Goldstein suggests that he’ll likely start in A-ball and could be three to five years away. Any deal given to Soler has to take the rate of failure of players this raw into account.

Either way, this will be an interesting story to watch unfurl as things could get nutty.

And the rest:

Half of the Mariners’ pitching staff no-hit the Dodgers last night after Kevin Millwood had to be removed from the game with a groin injury ahead of the seventh inning [Getting Blanked]. Lookout Landing’s Jeff Sullivan takes a deeper gander into the evening, while Tom Wilhelmsen—the pitcher who finished off the feat—took a minute before realizing what just happened [Jim Caple, ESPN].

In case you missed it, here’s every out:

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of many teams expected to go after Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin before this year’s July 31st trade deadline [Jon Heyman, CBS Sports]. Quentin is on fire since coming back from offseason knee surgery, hitting .484/.543/1.097 in 35 plate appearances. He is a career .255/.348/.499 hitter and has 126 home runs in 625 career games, but also has a long history of injury problems. He seems like the perfect candidate for a two-month rental for a contending team in need of a power bat.

The back injury to Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis may be more serious than first thought [Jim Salisbury, CSN Philly].

After trading a decent middle reliever in Michael Bowden to acquire him less than two months ago, the Boston Red Sox have designated struggling outfielder Marlon Byrd for assignment [Ian Browne and Austin Laymance,]. The Cubs are paying Byrd the vast majority of his $6.5-million salary for this year, so there’s a decent chance that another team in need of outfield depth could grab the 34-year-old off waivers. The move clears a roster spot for Daisuke Matsuzaka who returns today from Tommy John surgery and will pitch against the Nationals.

Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia will be out at least four weeks with a small tear in his throwing shoulder [Jenifer Langosch,]. Garcia has turned into a very good pitcher for St. Louis, but there’s no disputing his tendency to injure himself. This is the third time in his relatively short pro career that he’s landed on the DL with an arm problem. In July of 2007, Garcia was shut down for the year with a shoulder problem while in the minors. Then late in 2008, Garcia underwent Tommy John’s surgery and missed an entire year.

In his first start since throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history last Friday, Johan Santana was shelled for six runs in five innings against the Yankees last night [Anthony DiComo,].

Speaking of getting shelled, Pirates first-round pick Mark Appel is having a rough week. After expecting to go number-one overall to the Houston Astros in Monday’s draft, Appel fell to eighth overall and into the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then yesterday, he was knocked around, giving up seven runs in four innings in Stanford’s loss to Florida State in the first round of the NCAA championship [Drew Silva, NBC Hardball Talk].

Albert Pujols played third base last night and wasn’t half bad there, helping his Angels beat the terrible Rockies 7-2 [Jonathan Lyons, Monkey with a Halo].

Scott Rolen is attempting a comeback from his shoulder injury [Mark Sheldon,]. There’s still no timetable for the Reds third baseman, but the news is encouraging since there was talk of his retirement when he was first placed on the DL last month. asked some MLB players who they thought were the most overrated pitchers in baseball. Angels lefthander C.J. Wilson was ranked number one on the list []. Other notable names include A.J. Burnett at number-two, Tim Lincecum at number six (one spot ahead of teammate Barry Zito), and Stephen Strasburg at number-nine. Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels all made the list as well. If there was ever proof that former players make terrible analysts, this might be it.

Speaking of Strasburg, the apparently overrated pitcher struck out 13 Red Sox in his Fenway debut last night. Fellow Phenom Bryce Harper had three hits including another home run [Gordon Edes, ESPN].

Jason A. Churchill takes a look at what draft prospects might be on the fast-track to the Majors.

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