The hottest outfield name left on the free-agent market is named Yoenis Cespedes, but the name that Red Sox fans may end up uttering is Jorge Soler.
Soler is only 19, and unlike Cespedes, he's not expected to compete for a starting job in the majors in the next year. While that may make him less appealing to some teams, it also makes him less expensive to all parties that are interested.
The Red Sox would probably love to roll the dice on Cespedes, but his projected high cost makes that an impossible scenario. As of now, the Red Sox aren't in a position financially to take chances on "potential"—at least not if that chance will cost them in excess of $50 million.
Now, there is some evidence that Soler could be on their radar.
Soler, however, represents a different approach. He won't be a "bargain" in the manner that some teams would define the word. It's expected that Soler's cost could top the $20 million mark. Then again, he's also been projected to have the type of raw ability that would have placed him in the top five of the fairly impressive 2010 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
The Red Sox have other outfield prospects in their system, and they also have two current outfielders who could easily be All Stars next season in Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury might be a free-agent flight risk, and among the current crop of outfield prospects in the Red Sox's system, Soler would immediately become the one with the most potential. That doesn't mean he's destined for stardom at Fenway Park. In fact, as all baseball fans know, "potential" can be a pretty loaded word.
While plenty of players have never lived up to their potential, there have also been a fair amount that have fulfilled expectations—even seemingly lofty ones.
Eric Hosmer was everyone's favorite Triple-A American League hitter at the conclusion of spring training last year. He was called up to the majors in May. How did he respond to the instant hype and expectations that accompanied his arrival? Just fine, thank you very much. Hosmer hit .293 with 19 home runs, 11 stolen bases and 78 runs batted in.
Soler is not Hosmer as far as his pure hitting skills go, but his athleticism is not debatable. His development seems to be at a point where he won't be expected to be at the major league level until late 2013 or 2014, but if he arrives with his rumored five-tool skill set, he'll be worth both the money and the wait.