The market continues to take shape for outfielder Jorge Soler, considered by many to be the next big Cuban prospect on the scene after Yoenis Cespedes, who signed with the Oakland A’s earlier this week.
On Wednesday morning, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and members of his front office watched the 19-year-old Soler — along with Cuban pitcher Armando Rivero, outfielder Henry Urrutia and left-handed pitcher Omar Luis — work out at the club’s complex in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic, according to an industry source. The Orioles are scheduled to visit Soler in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, the source added.
The Blue Jays have a recent history with Cuban players. In 2010, the club signed infielder Adeiny Hechavarria to a four-year, $10 million deal. Soler, like Hechavarria, is represented by Bart Hernandez, a member of the Praver-Shapiro Sports Management Group.
The Yankees, White Sox, Marlins, Phillies and Cubs have also expressed interest Soler, and a source said that the reports the Cubs have an agreement in place for $28 million for the outfielder are false.
It’s unclear when Soler will make his way to the United States. He has applied for residency in the Dominican Republic — the first step to becoming eligible for free agency — and he should receive residency in the next few days. Once the outfielder gains residency, Major League Baseball can declare him a free agent, but he still must be legally cleared by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control before he can sign a contract.
Cespedes, who signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the A’s on Monday, followed a similar path. Cespedes was declared a resident of the Dominican Republic on Jan. 24, and was ruled a free agent by Major League Baseball the next day. Nineteen days later, he was cleared by OFAC and signed with the A’s.