Another big piece of the Cubs’ future is on the way to the majors, as David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports that top prospect outfielder Jorge Soler will be promoted from Triple-A Iowa tomorrow. The 22-year-old was pulled from tonight’s game after hitting a three-run homer off Mariners prospect right-hander Taijuan Walker, prompting immediate speculation of a call-up.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Soler defected from Cuba in 2011 and joined the Cubs in June of 2012 with a nine-year, $30 million contract. The 22-year-old was limited to just 55 games last season due to a fractured tibia, but he has exploded this season by batting .340/.432/.700 with 15 home runs in 62 minor league games between rookie ball, Double-A, and Triple-A.
While many are clamoring for Kris Bryant’s arrival to the big leagues, the timeline for Soler is a bit different since he’s already on the 40-man roster and the Cubs have him locked up for several years. Still, with Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and now Soler up in the majors, you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel in Chicago.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.