Marlins among teams interested in 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler

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We’ve heard so much about viral sensation Yoenis Cespedes in the media this month that another talented Cuban outfielder is flying under the radar. However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t generated plenty of buzz among MLB front-office types.

According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers and Cubs are among the teams who have expressed interest in 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler. Similar to Cespedes, Soler defected from Cuba and is currently working out for teams in the Dominican Republic. The Marlins and Rangers have already checked him out in person.

Soler isn’t anywhere close to major-league ready like Cespedes, but Frisaro heard from a scout that he boasts serious power potential and is only slightly smaller than Mike Stanton, who stands checks in at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Oh boy. Imagine these two in the very same lineup someday. I can hear the nicknames already.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote earlier this week that Soler is expected to receive a contract in the neighborhood of the three-year, $15.5 million deal the Rangers gave Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin earlier this year.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.