Now that Cuban defector Jorge Soler has finally been declared a free agent his representatives have asked all interested teams to submit bids by this Thursday, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.
Levine reports that the price for Soler is expected to exceed $25 million and timing the bidding war for him during the same week as the MLB draft should make things very interesting, as the buzz on the 20-year-old outfielder is that he’d definitely be a top-10 pick if eligible for the draft and might have gone as high as the top three.
Why would Soler’s agents want the bidding to take place immediately and at the same time as the MLB draft? Well, for one thing they’ve already waited a long time for Soler to be declared a free agent. And perhaps most importantly he needs to sign by July 2 in order to avoid the new collective bargaining agreement’s revised rules on international prospect spending.
In other words, if he doesn’t sign within the next four weeks he can say goodbye to any thoughts of $25 million.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉