Cubs Win Bidding for Jorge Soler

The new collective bargaining agreement essentially puts an end to the kinds of bidding wars for young Cuban prospects that we’ve seen over the last few years, but those rules don’t go into effect for another month, so 20-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler was not bound by the new rules and was free to negotiate as large of a contract as he could get from big league clubs.

Today, the Chicago Cubs were announced as the winning bidders, and while the $30 million total price tag is not all that surprising considering what Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, and Leonys Martin received, the shocking part of the reported deal is the term – according to Jon Heyman, the Cubs locked up Soler for nine years.

Now, Soler is not a Major League ready player, and should probably be expected to spend most of the next couple of seasons in the minors. If he spends the first three years of the deal in the minors, this will end up just covering his six years of club control, and won’t end up buying out any free agent seasons, so perhaps the nine year term isn’t as surprising as it might sound. However, this contract structure sounds like it may motivate the Cubs to push Soler aggressively (as long as it isn’t harming his development, anyway), since they won’t have any kinds of concerns about service time leading to earlier free agency. In fact, if they can get Soler to the big leagues at some point in 2014, they may be able to squeeze out seven full years and some change from Soler before he becomes a free agent. He wouldn’t have to play all that well to justify a $30 million investment that carried him through all of his arbitration years and potentially even a year of free agency.

I’d imagine the contract probably covers this scenario to some degree, and we’ll probably see incentives that increase Soler’s pay based on when he gets to the big leagues, but this contract may make it unlikely that the Cubs ever have to go to arbitration with Soler, and that could end up being a significant cost savings down the line.

Because of the new rules that go into effect next month, this will be the last deal of its kind, but the Cubs decided to make the last one pretty interesting.

Update: It appears that the contract contains not incentives for arrival, but a total opt-out of the contract when Soler becomes arbitration eligible. So, essentially, the $30 million the Cubs paid Soler is more of a signing bonus than anything else, and makes this deal much more friendly for Soler.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.



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Tim
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Tim

Great signing at 9 years, limits the cubs risk, and if he pans out Theo and Jed just committed a felony.

PiratesHurdles
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PiratesHurdles

Not really a felony.

Say he was draft eligible, he would get $4-5 million for signing then spend 2-3 years in the minors. At that point say he pans out and plays 6 good years for the Cubs (until the end of the deal) . He would make only $1.4 million the first 3 seasons at league minimum, then three arbitration years. Even if he’s a very good player he maybe gets $8, $10, $12 million for those three seasons. The Cubs took on a lot of risk for maybe $5-6 million in savings and he still hits free agency at 29 like most young stars.

Odds are heavily in favor of this deal being a huge bust as the only way it makes sense is for Soler to become an all-star.

Jack Weiland
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Jack Weiland

You really, really, really cannot analyze this deal in vacuum. Soler got more than he would have otherwise based on the very special circumstances mentioned in the opening paragraph of this story. Soler was the last of these big money IFA types before the new rules go into effect, and that VERY MUCH changed the market for him.

You also can’t compare him to a draft pick, since it’s not in any way the same thing. The Cubs essentially just bought an extra Top 10 draft pick for nothing more than money, and really not an outrageous amount at that.

It’s a good move for the Cubs, no matter how you slice it. This is exactly the kind of stuff big market teams should do, that the Cubs haven’t done enough of (pre Epstoyer, of course).

geefee
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geefee

Seriously. You lost me at “say he was draft eligible.”

He’s not draft eligible, and draft eligible prospects are worth far more than they actually receive as signings like this one would tend to indicate. Oh, and draft picks are in themselves quite valuable. Say he is what is actually is (or was til just now): a free agent.

PiratesHurdles
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PiratesHurdles

Oh for pete’s sake, the guy said its a felony when the Cubs clearly overpaid. My example was to illustrate the cost of a top 50 prospect to a team for 9 years, which is about $35 million. They got a raw Cuban prospect for an amount of money that could have secured a legit MLB player for 3 seasons. If everything goes right they didn’t save any money while all the risk is on their end.

Its not a terrible move, but its not a steal either.

PiratesHurdles
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PiratesHurdles

Geefee, the comp was to illustrate what another team would expect to pay for a similar 9 years of a prospect who becomes a star player. In other cases the risk is much less than this contract.

There is no doubt that the draft suppresses player value, but there is alos little doubt that this was a large overpay due to the impending rule changes. The Cubs also went way high for Concepcion and that already looks foolish.

Jack Weiland
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Jack Weiland

This isn’t “other prospects” … this is THIS prospect. You can’t analyze it from the lens of draft picks, because he’s not a draft pick. And the only resource used here was cash, which the Cubs have plenty of.

I didn’t say it was a huge steal. I just disagreed with you that it was a likely bust. They paid about what they should have, and that’s totally cool. The money is nothing to the Cubs if it pans out, and if it doesn’t pan out, they’re out about 1.3 seasons of Alfonso Soriano. Not a crippling move by any measure.

Also, I mean … peak value? You’re telling me Jorge Soler’s MAX over the next nine years is 7 total WAR? I think the Cubs and a bunch of other teams certainly feel there’s significant room on the other side of that equation.

Bottom line the Cubs added a top 50 prospect for nothing more than cash. Good move.

The Mighty Tim
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The Mighty Tim

I can’t wait for another week or two when the Pirates start losing again so fans like you will disappear into the ether. Go away troll.

Grant
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Grant

I feel you pirates hurdles. I tend to agree with your point, and find the “but he ISN’T a draft pick” argument extremely lazy and annoying. You aren’t adding anything to the argument so why even say that, especially when others already have. Who cares what he is, the comparison is between two things that the cubs could theoretically spend 30 million dollars on.

Jack Weiland
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Jack Weiland

How is it lazy? He isn’t a draft pick. If Jorge Soler could have ONLY signed with the Cubs (who “drafted” him) then that MIGHT make sense. But the guy could have signed with every team, and on top of that there were extenuating circumstances with the change in IFA rules taking place next month.

You can’t compare apples and oranges and fault the oranges because they don’t look like apples. That’s stupid. Unless you really like apples or something.

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