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Cubs set sights on Cuban OF Jorge Soler

Updated: March 15, 2012 8:11AM

With the Oakland Athletics’ signing Monday of touted Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the focus of the Cuban market turned to outfielder Jorge Soler and the Cubs’ intensified pursuit of him.

As reported by the Sun-Times in November, multiple baseball sources said the 20-year-old Soler was the Cubs’ more desired target, even as they scouted and vetted Cespedes this winter. Cubs officials only have acknowledged doing thorough player-evaluation and background work on both.

Soler, who is six years younger than Cespedes, looked like a better fit for the Cubs’ longer-range building plans from the start. The Cubs already landed the top Cuban pitcher available this winter, signing 18-year-old Gerardo Concepcion for $7 million last month. The Cubs also signed two of Soler’s former Cuban teammates to minor-league deals.

Unlike Cespedes, Soler hasn’t been declared eligible to sign, but that approval might come within days.

A recent report from Miami cited sources saying the Cubs were willing to make a multiyear offer worth $27.5 million for Soler. Cespedes received a four-year, $36 million deal from the Athletics after the Miami Marlins had been considered the favorites to sign him.

The White Sox were one of several teams to inquire about Cespedes, but their pursuit never reached a serious stage. The price was too high for the Sox, who have cut payroll and are the only team in baseball without a free-agent signing this offseason.

Contributing: Daryl Van Schouwen

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