BP Comment Quick Links
June 11, 2012
Future Shock Blog
Jorge Soler: A Quick Primer
When Jorge Soler was declared a free agent last week, agent Barry Praver sent an email to all teams to inform them that the deadline for initial bids was June 7. That indicated a quick negotiation window, and that window closer on Monday afternoon with Soler closing a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Without getting into the dynamics that went into such a deal, and future dynamics such as the potential for arbitration outs, let's focus on Soler the player. On a scouting level, Soler has a classic right-field profile. He's athletic, with at least average speed, and has decent instincts in center, which should serve him well in right, as well as a plus or better arm. His calling card offensively is raw power that has earned 70+ scores from scouts, but opinions are his pure hit tool are quite varied. There is clearly some swing and miss in his game, but he's shows the ability to make adjustments in international play. There is some stiffness to his swing, but it clearly has worked for him so far.
In the 2011 draft, Soler could have been a top ten pick. In the 2012 draft, he certainly would have been among the top eight, and likely top five. As for Soler's development, he will likely get acclimated to beisbol en Estados Unidos by spending some time at the Cubs complex in Arizona before getting shipped out to play somewhere in the neighborhood of six weeks in the minors before instructional leagues begin. A big league debut in 2014, while not out of the question, would be the most optimistic of scenarios. He has easy impact potential, but there are plenty of potential speed bumps between Soler reporting to camp and him reaching the big leagues.
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
20 comments have been left for this article.
BP Comment Quick Links
You have to be kidding me.
Jun 11, 2012 16:04 PM
I just like the idea that the Cubs added depth to their farm system at a price that would be reasonable even if Soler became nothing more than a backup outfielder. If he becomes nothing more than a tweener, he'd be a steal and still a good stopgap until other prospects bubble up.
Jun 11, 2012 16:07 PM
Well, at ~$5M/WARP, he only needs to be worth 6 WARP over nine years to be worth the contract, which I think is well within the realm of even a bench guy.
Jun 11, 2012 16:23 PM
"In baseball's defense, it's not baseball's fault that they have a separate Cuba policy, it's the United States government's."
Jun 12, 2012 13:34 PM
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
Exactly how does MLB justify that a 'would be' top 5 pick gets $30m on the open market, while the top overall pick has a slot of $7.2m?
Entire teams are budgeting less than 30% of the TMV of a top pick for their entire draft. What a bargain!
bear in mind the slot for the #1 pick isn't a 9-year contract like Soler's.
Even so, the point stands. The draft is essentially a massive redistribution of wealth to the owners from amateur talent. I'm not necessarily saying I'm opposed to the existence of the draft, or that I love it, but that's an undeniable fact.
Right. The #1 Pick signs a contract for what could be 14 years. (5 minor league years, 3 option years, 6 major league years).
and it could be 5 years, and it could be a lot more than $30 million, with the arb years.
The option years are the major league years, so in a world where the player spends five years in the minors, the team gets them for 11 years, though only eight of them (five minor league years and three option years) are part of the contract. In the three arb years that follow the player is contracted to his team but the salary is TBD.
Also, this only happens if the player spends 5 full years in the minors (i.e. isn't very good). If Soler spends five full years in the minors the Cubs aren't going to be very happy.
You do realize that with the new CBA, this is the last dealof this kind.
They're not just paying Soler as if it's a standard draft bonus. They're paying an opportunity cost, getting a chance at a surplus top-5 talent while eliminating every other team from grabbing said opportunity. The Cubs have basically said that they think it's worth $25MM to have an additional top-5 pick. They're probably right.
Especially when you consider the new CBA, it's much more likely that top talents that drop because of signability concerns will be more likely to just reenter the draft. Thus, it's much harder for teams to get multiple top-5 talents in a single draft.
And unfortunately, because of the small sample size of "reality," if Soler ends up a star, it'll seem like a good decision; if he doesn't make the majors it'll be deemed a failure. And Soler's resulting career is only one input into judging the Cubs's call.
Regardless of what Soler does in the future, I'd say it's a great signing. We should judge the signing by judging the process and the information at hand when the Cubs made the decision. If Soler busts, it's still sound, process-wise, to grab this kind of talent for this kind of money. It's a $30MM risk they are capable of making. Nothing Soler can or will do in the future will change the answer to the question "Should you bid top-dollar for the best available international talent?"