Updated: June 30, 2012 2:07PM
The Cubs announced Saturday the signing of Cuban slugging prospect Jorge Soler, 20, who becomes the first major monied player for team president Theo Epstein.
The Cubs were said to have out-bid the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers for rights to the Cuban outfielder. The deal a nine-year pact worth $30 million.
It is a deal based on projections, with the Cubs believing Soler will develop into a power-hitting player.
``We think he’ll provide a ton of power potential for us,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said.. ``We scouted him heavily and obviously he’s a significant commitment for us. We feel he fits well into what we’re trying to do. He’s the right age, the right talent and we’re excited to get him started.’’
Hoyer wouldn’t project when Soler might be major league-ready.
``Let’s get him in games first, but he’s 20 yers old,’’ Hoyer said. ``One thing his agents did a good job of was getting him in games in the Domincan Republic [after his defection.]. It wasn’t just a showcase thing. We’re hopeful that’s a harbenger of good things, but it’s hard to tell until he gets in games.’’
Manager Dale Sveum has seen Soler only on video.
``You can go on and on about body types, but he is like a Glenn Braggs, and that kind of strength at that young age is pretty impressive,’’ Sveum said Saturday. ``Hopefully it can translate into success at this [major league] level.’’
Soler is considered years away from the majors, though some prospects said he would have been a top ten pick had he been in this month’s amateur draft.
Soler played for the Cuban national team in international competition before defecting from Cuba in 2011, going to Haiti.
The Cubs had until Monday to sign Soler to the agreed contract. As of Monday, new rules on the signing of international players caps contracts to $2.9 million annually.
The 6-3, 205-pound player batted .304 with a .500 on base percentage and .522 slugging percentage in seven games in 2010 playing in the World Junior Championships.