Jorge Soler, the Boise Hawks, Pierce Johnson Signs … and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Cubs did not play a game on Monday but the front office did not take the day off. A week after the First-Year Player Draft began Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made their biggest signing since taking over the team back in October. The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on a nine-year, $30 million contract with 20-year old outfielder Jorge Soler. The Cubs have not commented on the signing, which is expected to be made official in the next few days.

The Cubs also signed their second pick in last week’s draft, right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson. Johnson inked his deal and will report to Boise soon to begin his professional career. Johnson announced the signing on his Twitter account.

The first Boise Hawks roster also surfaced Monday and the rumor mill is starting to heat up with the non-waiver trade deadline six weeks away. Plus, the first baseman for the I-Cubs hit not one but two more home runs Monday night, then settled for a double …

Jorge Soler
The Cubs’ new regime landed their man Monday when they agreed to terms on a nine-year, $30 million deal with Jorge Soler. Soler’s contract is reportedly a major league deal and when the signing is made official he will be added to the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

The deal Jorge Soler agreed to include financial opt outs once Soler becomes arbitration eligible. Soler will remain under the Cubs’ control until after the 2020 season but his deal has clauses that allow him to renegotiate his contract in each of his three arbitration years (3-6). So if Soler does not make his debut until 2015 for example, he can renegotiate his contract for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 season … the same as any 3-6 year arbitration eligible player.

Baseball America’s Jim Callis joined David Kaplan, Andrea Darlas and Brian Noonan during the first hour of Monday’s WGN Sports Night to discuss the Soler signing.

Jim Callis likes the signing for the Cubs. He said that the top two prospects in the Cubs’ system are probably Jorge Soler and Javier Baez at this point and he flip-flopped between the two on which one would be the top prospect in the system. Callis believes Baez will end up at third base and Soler profiles as a right fielder with power. Soler possesses great bat speed with plus power and is a solid runner. He said the only downside in the signing is most Cuban defectors do not live up to the hype. The scouts like Soler’s tools but are not sure if he can hit for average in the big leagues. Callis said Soler is very similar to Yoenis Cespedes.

On the conservative end, Callis thinks Soler could be with the Cubs at the end of the 2014 season … which would make him only 22 years old when he makes his big league debut. Callis sees a scenario in which Soler is in the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup in 2015.

David Kaplan asked about a possible opening day lineup for 2015 and Callis agreed with Kaplan that Anthony Rizzo (1B), Junior Lake (2B), Starlin Castro (SS), Javier Baez (3B), Brett Jackson (LF), Albert Almora (CF) and Jorge Soler (RF) could be seven of the eight position players in the opening day lineup in two and a half years.

Callis likes the offensive potential that is now in the Cubs’ system but the organization’s pitching is not as impressive. Callis likes the first three pitchers the Cubs selected in this year’s draft (Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn and Duane Underwood). He is not sure if Trey McNutt is a starter and mentioned he could be a better reliever in the long term and Dillon Maples has not pitched professionally yet. At some point, the Cubs are going to have to find pitching to go along with the offensive talent.

During the interview, Jim Callis said he thinks Albert Almora will sign with the Cubs.

Pierce Johnson and the Cubs 2012 Draft
The Cubs are beginning to sign the players they selected in last week’s first-year player’s draft. While most are focused on if the Cubs will be able to ink Albert Almora, the team’s number one pick, the Cubs were able to get their second pick (43rd overall) under contract.

The Cubs selected RHP Pierce Johnson with their first pick in the supplemental round. Johnson signed his deal with the Cubs on Monday and will soon report to Boise. Terms of Johnson’s signing bonus were not released. If the Cubs did not exceed the slot, Johnson’s signing bonus should have been $1.196 million.

The Cubs have also agreed to terms with their fifth round pick (LHP) Anthony Prieto, (RHP) Corbin Hoffner the 14th round selection, (LHP) Nathan Dorris the 17th round pick and (CF) Izaac Garsez. The Cubs selected Garsez in the 30th round and he said he should know by Thursday or Friday where he will begin the season.

Boise Hawks
The first Boise Hawks roster for the season was made public Monday night. More changes are expected as Pierce Johnson will report to Boise soon and the Opening Day roster could have a couple of additions and subtractions. The Hawks open their season Friday night against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

The Hawks are led by Mark Johnson, David Rosario is Boise’s pitching coach and Bill Buckner will spend the short-season as the Hawks’ hitting coach.

Pitchers

  • Jose Arias (RHP)
  • Willengton Cruz (RHP)
  • Ian Dickson (RHP)
  • Rafael Diplin (RHP)
  • Pete Levitt (RHP)
  • Amaury Paulino (RHP)
  • Roderik Pichardo (RHP)
  • James Pugliese (RHP)
  • Tayler Scott (RHP)
  • Bryce Shafer (RHP)
  • Matt Spencer (LHP)

Catchers

  • Wilson Contreras

Infielders

  • Gioskar Amaya
  • Jeimer Candelario
  • Marco Hernandez
  • Brian Inoa
  • Rock Shoulders

Outfielders

  • Xavier Batista
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr.
  • Eduardo Gonzalez
  • Dong-Yub Kim

Other Minor League News
Daytona’s Austin Kirk was named starter for the North Team in the Florida State League All-Star game.

Anthony Rizzo hit two more home runs on Monday night. For those scoring at home, that is back-to-back multi-homer games. Rizzo has 22 longballs on the season and leads all of the minor leagues in total bases. Rizzo is hitting .370 with a .430 OBP and a 1.183 OPS in 219 at bats … in June, .447/.500 with a 1.447 OPS.

Video of Anthony Rizzo’s Second Home Run from June 11

Rumor Mill
Many feel the Cubs will be one of the busiest teams leading up to July’s non-waiver trade deadline. According to a report from Jon Heyman, some rival general managers anticipate the Cubs may be willing to consider deals for almost all of the players on their current roster with the exception of Starlin Castro.

Heyman mentioned Monday morning on the Score that even Jeff Samardzija could be available in the right deal, even though his recent outings may have hurt his value. Heyman pointed out that some teams feel Samardzija still might be a better fit in the back of a bullpen than as a starter.

Matt Garza’s name has been bantered around with teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays believed to be the most interested. Ryan Dempster could also be dealt and the Tribune thinks he could be the first traded. Dempster has been connected to the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Dodgers. Kevin Goldstein has repeatedly stated that he feels the Cubs could receive a top 10 talent in return for Dempster.

The other names mentioned by Jon Heyman as possible trade chips include Paul Maholm, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson and even Carlos Marmol.

Heyman discussed Soriano on the Score and said he has not heard of any teams currently interested in trading for him.

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

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