Not So Fast on Soler … and Other Cubs News and Notes

Three days until Cubs’ pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park … The Cubs organizational meetings begin Wednesday in Mesa and will conclude on Thursday. The annual meetings were pushed back from November until the week before camp opens due to all of the changes with the team. It will be a who’s who in Cubs baseball for the next two days at the Cubs’ complex at Fitch Park.

The reports Monday night and Tuesday morning from the mainstream media that indicated the Cubs had come to an agreement with Jorge Soler have been shot down.

As has been reported by the CCO, Jorge Soler must establish residency in the Dominican Republic before he can apply to MLB to become a free agent. Once he is granted free agency by Major League Baseball he can talk to teams and even negotiate a contract … but he cannot sign a contract until he receives an unblocking license from the OFAC (U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control).

Here is the update that includes more on Jorge Soler … plus, are the Cubs talking contract extension with Matt Garza?

Jorge Soler
Before getting further into Tuesday’s news surrounding Jorge Soler, the pronunciation of his last name has nothing to do with a power source but rhymes with the last name of one of the two first basemen on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, Bryan LaHair.

David Kaplan debunked the reports that the Cubs had an agreement in place with Jorge Soler. While it is difficult to follow every move made, it is safe to say that in the world we live in if Jorge Soler had established residency in the Dominican Republic it would be all over the Internet and Twitter. Soler has not established residency, which is the first step in the process of him becoming eligible to sign a contract with a Major League Baseball team.

As Baseball America pointed out, if Soler had a deal in place with the Cubs, as the Tribune reported, it would be a violation of MLB rules and without the unblocking license in place an agreement with a MLB team could also violate federal regulations.

From Baseball America: Any team that enters into agreement with a Cuban player who still needs to be unblocked would be potentially subject to an OFAC fine and, in theory, disciplinary action from MLB. The league has its own department of investigations, but whether it will look into the reported deal remains to be seen. An MLB official said the league was currently looking into whether Soler has established his residency anywhere yet.

The Cubs are considered to be one of the many teams interested in signing the 19-year old outfielder, who turns 20 in ten days (February 25). The Yankees, Phillies, Rangers and Marlins reportedly have interest … and reports from the Dominican Tuesday night indicated Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays’ GM, would be in the DR to see Soler on Wednesday.

Kaplan confirmed the Cubs have been to the Dominican multiple times to see Soler and have spoken with his agent, Barry Praver, about him but the Cubs are looking for a longer term deal with Soler, according to Kaplan’s sources, than the three-four year deal that was reported Monday night.

Jorge Soler could end up signing with the Cubs and end up in their system this season … but there are steps in the process that must be followed first, regardless of what the mainstream media is reporting.

Cubs at the Cell
Multiple reports Tuesday shot down the notion that the Cubs could play their home games during the 2013 season at U.S. Cellular Field. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the team does not have a renovation plan in place yet for Wrigley Field.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights:

  • According to Levine, most think Jorge Soler would have been a top five pick in last year’s draft, if he would have been eligible. The Cubs appear to be the frontrunner to sign Soler but as Levine pointed out, the Marlins were considered the frontrunner at the end to sign Yoenis Cespedes.
  • The Cubs have been working on an extension with Matt Garza, whether they can get a deal done depends on how reasonable both sides will be. The Cubs could still do a sign and trade with Garza because Theo Epstein does not give out no-trade clauses in long-term deals.
  • Levine does not see a Geovany Soto for Wade Davis deal happening right now. Levine is not convinced that Soto will not be moved at some point during the season.
  • The Cubs are building past the 2012 season and the new regime wants flexibility with “this makeshift group.” The Cubs could be busy at the trade deadline in July as a part of the process of building a championship team.
  • Marlon Byrd has been the subject of trade talks since November and Brett Jackson’s role this season might clear up a little if they are able to trade Byrd.
  • Jeff Baker is Bryan LaHair’s backup at first base right now.
  • The Cell could be an option for some of the Cubs’ home games in 2013 if the Cubs shutdown Wrigley for a season. The Cubs could possibly use Miller Park as well but the renovation to Wrigley will likely take place over three to four seasons so the Cubs can play at Wrigley.
  • If it was Levine’s decision, he would have Steve Clevenger back-up Geovany Soto when the season begins and let Welington Castillo spend the year at Triple-A Iowa
  • According to Doug Padilla, the White Sox had interest in Jorge Soler … but do not have the cash to grab him.

News and Notes
According to multiple reports, the White Sox finally signed Kosuke Fukudome. The Sox were one of the teams that went down to the wire with Fukudome four years ago before Kosuke agreed to the four-year deal with the Cubs. Fukudome signed a one-year deal with the Sox Tuesday worth $1 million … the Sox will pay Fukudome only $500,000 for the 2012 season. The contract also includes a club option for the 2013 season worth $3.5 million (with a $500,000 buyout).

For those that are curious with all of the talk surrounding the big money TV deals other teams are signing, the Cubs are locked into their current deals with WGN TV until after the 2014 season and with Comcast SportsNet until after the 2019 season.

MLB Fan Cave
Brian Pasnik, a Cubs’ fan, is one of the finalists in the MLB Fan Cave contest and is asking Cubs’ fans for their vote.

Click Here to Watch Brian Pasnik’s video and vote for him to spend the season watching all 2,430 games in the Fan Cave.

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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe