Are the Cubs Close to Signing Jorge Soler? … and Other News and Notes

Happy Valentine’s Day … The long off-season is just about over. Cubs’ pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park in just four days.

One of the Cubs’ off-season targets was taken off the board Monday when Yoenis Cespedes agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal with the Oakland A’s. Cespedes is expected to be in the A’s Opening Day lineup instead of beginning the season in the minors.

With Cespedes no longer an option, the Cubs have reportedly turned their attention to signing 19-year old Jorge Soler and are reportedly close to signing him. Soler has not established residency in the Dominican Republic, which is the first step in the process of him becoming eligible to sign with a Major League team.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are interested in a reunion with Ramon Ortiz. Levine reported Monday afternoon that the Cubs are interested in offering Ortiz a minor league contract that would include an invite to big league camp.

And finally, could the Cubs play their home games in 2013 on the South Side?

Here’s the update …

Jorge Soler
The Cubs are very much in the mix for Jorge Soler and many think the Cubs could have already reached an agreement with the 19-year old Cuban outfielder.

The Cubs are thought to have met with Soler while they were in the Dominican earlier this month visiting their new academy.

Jorge Soler’s agent, Barry Praver, declined to comment on the reports when contacted by ESPN Chicago. Praver shared a car ride with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from Chicago to Milwaukee on November 14 to attend the General Managers’ Meetings. According to the report from ESPN Chicago, the Cubs and Praver discussed Soler during the trip.

The Cubs reportedly would be willing to spend $27.5 million on a three-four year deal for Jorge Soler according to the Tribune. Soler turns 20 on February 25 and the Cubs have already signed two of his former teammates this off-seasonYasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez.

Jorge Soler must establish residency in the Dominican Republic before he can apply for free agency with Major League Baseball. Once MLB declares Soler a free agent, he can negotiate with teams and agree to terms on a contract … but he cannot sign a contract until he receives an unblocking license from OFAC.

Cubs’ Home Games at the Cell?
Could the Cubs’ play their home games during the 2013 season at U.S. Cellular Field? The Cubs denied the report from NBC Chicago that they are looking at contingencies for where they could play their home games if Wrigley Field receives its much-needed make-over.

According to a report from CBS Chicago, the Cubs are saying reports “are putting the cart before the horse” and “there is no done deal” but CBS’ sources at the Cell are hearing “there may be a busier than usual season in 2013”

Theo Epstein Compensation
The Theo Epstein compensation issue could finally be coming to an end. Several reports Monday indicated Bud Selig could make a decision at some point this week.

The Cubs and Red Sox have “submitted written arguments” to Bud Selig “on what compensation the Red Sox should receive for allowing Theo Epstein to leave” Boston with a year remaining on his contract.

Bud Selig has not given a timetable for a decision and both the Cubs and Sox declined to comment on the situation Monday.

News and Notes
Ozzie Guillen discussed the end of Carlos Zambrano’s career with the Cubs. Guillen said Zambrano wore out his welcome, did a lot of bad things and was out of hand.

For the latest from Fitch Park, click here for the update from Tim Sheridan.

Kevin Goldstein released his list of the top 101 prospects in the game. Three of the Cubs’ best prospects made Goldstein’s list. Brett Jackson checked in at no. 44 while Javier Baez (66) and Anthony Rizzo (75) also made the list.

And … according to Baseball America, Gerardo Concepcion is now the 19th best prospect in the Cubs’ system.

WGN Radio Contest

WGN Radio has asked the CCO to help promote their latest contest … write the official WGN Radio Cubs Song for the 2012 season. For those baseball fans that are also musicians this could end up being your bring break.

All entries must be submitted by February 29, 2012.

Click here for more information and the official rules from WGN Radio.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne