Cubs officially announce signing of Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler

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We learned earlier this month that the Cubs agreed to sign Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler to a nine-year, $30 million contract. The deal was made official today, just two days before the new international spending cap goes into effect.

According to CSNChicago.com, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said this afternoon that Soler will occupy a spot on the team’s 40-man roster. The 20-year-old will have the ability to opt out of his contract once he qualifies for arbitration, but he will remain under team control. If he opts out of the deal, his salary will be determined by the arbitration process. As a result, Soler may end up making considerably more than $30 million. Of course, the Cubs probably won’t be too upset if he pans out and performs well enough to justify the raise.

Soler is listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and his highly-regarded for his power potential. He is expected to begin his pro career as a right fielder, but the Cubs will have him do some baseball activities in Mesa, Arizona before he joins one of the organization’s minor league affiliates. Patience will be required, but he’s a pretty exciting prospect.

World Series Game 1 will feature Dallas Keuchel vs. Clayton Kershaw

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The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.

Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.

Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).

Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.