Now that Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler has been granted free agency, the Cubs are expected to make a significant push to retain his services.
With new spending restrictions on signing international players set to go into effect July 2, Soler doesn’t figure to come cheap. There are no spending restrictions for another month.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder is listed as a right fielder, but moves well enough to play center. In a scouting report, Baseball America touted his bat speed, his ability to hit to all field and projected him to hit 25 home runs per season.
Unlike recent Cuban defectors Alexei Ramirez and Yoenis Cespedes, who arrived major-league ready, the 20-year-old Soler is expected to need about two seasons of development in the minor leagues.
In addition to the Cubs’ interest, the Toronto Blue Jays have also reportedly worked out Soler. Other teams rumored to be interested in his services include the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.
Players who defect from Cuba first need to establish residency in another country before signing with a Major League Baseball team per federal law. Soler had been working on residency in the Dominican Republic.
Soler's free-agent status was first reported Saturday by Fox Sports.