Cubs shoot down rumor about Jorge Soler
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Twitter: @cst_cubs March 21, 2012 3:20PM
MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs have one big-shot Cuban defector in their minor-league camp, missed on another who went to Oakland and still have hopes of landing the one they’ve coveted the most all winter.
But Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wants to make one thing clear about that last guy, 20-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler:
``The rumors that we have a deal with him are completely bogus,’’ Hoyer said, referring to a report by at least one Chicago outlet in mid-February suggesting the Cubs had a deal done with Soler, pending MLB declaring him a free agent.
Soler still has not been made a free agent, a process that involves federal authorities in at least two countries as he reportedly tries to establish residency in the Dominican Republic.
While baseball insiders expect Soler to become a free agent by the July 2 deadline to avoid MLB’s new signing-bonus restrictions, nobody seems to know for sure when it will happen. And making even a handshake agreement of terms with the player until then would violate not only baseball rules but federal law.
``I don’t know where that started,’’ Hoyer said. ``But those rumors have no merit.’’
That doesn’t mean the Cubs don’t have serious interest in Soler. Sources told the Sun-Times in November that Soler was the player the Cubs coveted more than 26-year-old outfielder Yoenis Cespedes – who eventually turned down a six-year, $36 million offer from the Cubs to sign with the Oakland Athletics for four years and the same money.
Along the way, the Cubs also signed the top Cuban pitcher available, 19-year-old Gerardo Concepcion for $7 million.
He just joined the Cubs’ minor-league spring camp and has started throwing bullpens. He’s not expected to pitch for the Cubs on the big-league side of camp.