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Jorge Soler: Braves Missed a Huge Opportunity by Losing out on Cuban Star

With the representatives of Cuban defector Jorge Soler asking all clubs to submit their final bids as of Sunday night, the sweepstakes for the free agent outfielder appears to have come to an end.   

As first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Chicago Cubs won the bidding for the free agent outfielder.

Since that report, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed the contract to be a nine-year deal worth $30 million.

 

 

A long-term deal was not unexpected with the 20-year-old outfielder projected to start his professional career at the lower levels of the minor leagues.

In a January subscribers-only column, Baseball America described Soler as a kid that,“stands out for his thick, physical build and strength. Power is Soler's best tool, as he shows great bat speed, the ability to hit balls out to all fields and the potential to hit 25 home runs per year. While scouts like his power and some like his swing, he bars his front arm and the stiffness in his stroke is a concern for some scouts. Scouts have offered differing opinions on his ability to hit breaking balls, but he has a history of laying off pitches outside the strike zone in international competition and has more on-base potential than Cespedes. Soler is athletic for his size and there are reports of him running the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds—a time that grades out as well above-average speed—but several scouts have said he's really an average runner at best, running better underway than down the line.”

The most commonly reported ETA for Soler’s arrival in the big leagues is the 2014 season.

There had been a wide variety of speculation as to which team was the front-runner for his services.

With Soler falling under the previous collective bargaining agreement, there was no cap placed on what teams were allowed to bid.

He had until July 2 to sign a contract under the old rules; once that date passes, there will be a hard cap of $2.9 million placed on teams “for international amateur signings from nations such as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.” – Via ESPN.com

Multiple sources reported Soler worked out most recently for teams in South Florida last Wednesday, the Cubs were among those teams that attended.

The New York Yankees were also in attendance for that workout and were expected to be one of the highest bidders after failing to previously sign free agents Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes this offseason.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com a few days ago, the teams that appeared to be heavy favorites in the bidding along with the Cubs included the Yankees, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

 

As of earlier today, Tim Brown of Yahoo.com reported that the Dodgers were no longer in the running and that the Toronto Blues Jays along with the usual “mystery team” were being discussed among the front-runners.

 

 

The Braves being mentioned as a possible landing spot for Soler came as a bit of a surprise given their known salary restrictions by ownership, although they do have the contracts of Derek Lowe ($10 million) and Chipper Jones ($7 million club option) coming off the books at the end of the season.

The fact Atlanta was considered among the highest bidders for Soler means they are likely to be a player when negotiations for impending free agent center fielder Michael Bourn begin this winter.

There is also the Brian McCann contract that will need to be tended to soon by Atlanta's front office. McCann has a club option worth $12 million for the 2013 season.

Atlanta has always put scouting and player development as the forefront of the organization, there reported attempt to sign Soler only continues to cement that belief.

Founder/Writer of Big Leagues Monthly | The Magazine and a Featured Columnist here at Bleacher Report, he has also been an MLB contributor for MLBDepthCharts and BravesWire. Follow on Twitter @BigLeaguesMthly

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