Jorge Soler has generated a lot of attention on the free-agent market this winter. The buzz surrounding him has picked up as Soler has worked out in front of a number of major league executives.
He is a very projectable player that has all of the tools that could lead to the 19-year old outfielder turning into a star. That is not to say that there is no-risk in signing Soler. He has yet to face elite competition and it is not known how he will fare against pitchers in the United States.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Soler has been compared to Mike Stanton by a number of major league scouts. A player with that type of power is not one that comes around often.
Soler has a great build at 6'3", 200 lbs and since he is still young, he could get even bigger. This means that his power could develop even further.
He is also said to posses good speed and defensive abilities. With a few years of development in the minors, Soler could be a solid middle-of-the-order hitter.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has noted that the two teams in the hardest on Soler right now are the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees. There is a good chance that a bidding war will break out between these two teams as they compete to sign Soler.
The Phillies and Yankees are not the only teams that are in on Soler at this point. It was reported a few days ago by Chicago Tribune reporter Dave van Dyck that the Chicago Cubs are also interested in the young star.
Chicago has already signed one Cuban youngster, pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, this winter, and they could be a threat to the Yankees and Phillies' chances of signing Soler.
Which team will sign Jorge Soler?
In the past, a bidding war like this would almost certainly favor the Yankees. However, the team does have a payroll of over $200 million this year. With that being said, the Phillies saw their payroll jump almost $30 million from last season up to a total of more than $165 million.
The cost of Soler was expected to be less than the four-year, $36 million deal that Yoenis Cespedes signed with the Oakland Athletics. However, with the fact that the teams with the two highest payrolls in the major leagues are now involved heavily in trying to sign Soler, that could change.
At the moment, the Yankees are trying to find a way to trade A.J. Burnett. According to Jim Bowden of ESPN, Burnett should be dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates fairly soon. The salary relief from trading Burnett should be enough to push the Yankees ahead in the hunt for Soler.
Once Soler does become a free agent, there is no doubt that a number of teams will be making him offers. As the bidding war for Soler escalates, there is one team that will come out on top.
The Yankees have shown that they are willing to take risks on international players in the past with their signing of Kei Igawa. That deal obviously didn't work out, but the Yankees were willing to pay $46 million to sign him.
When it comes to spending over $20 million on a player that may spend two years in the minors to develop, there is one team that should be expected to do it.
The Yankees have the cash and are willing to spend it when they spot an elite talent. Soler is that type of talent.
When things are all said and done, expect to see Soler wearing pinstripes.