It’s been six weeks since Dave Van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Cubs were going to sign Cuban defector Jorge Soler, yet the 19-year-old outfielder remains unsigned and still hasn’t even officially been granted free agent status.
And today Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com not to believe the hype about Soler being destined for Chicago:
He’s not a free agent. The rumors that we have a deal with him are just completely bogus. I don’t know where that started, but you guys [in the media] should not run with those rumors. They’re just rumors and they have no merit.
Pretty strong words, although that certainly doesn’t rule out Soler eventually winding up with the Cubs when he’s finally declared a free agent. Mooney writes that “there’s no denying that the Cubs have targeted Soler for months and done extensive background work on the prospect.”
And as long as he signs before July 2, he won’t be subjected to the collective bargaining agreement’s new international spending rules. Earlier this month the Cubs did sign fellow Cuban defector Gerardo Concepcion, giving the 20-year-old pitcher $6 million, but the “completely bogus” rumors surrounding Soler have him costing more than $20 million.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.