A’s “have strong interest” in 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler

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Oakland has been parting with big-league talent all offseason, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s “have strong interest” in 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler.

According to Slusser the A’s also like fellow Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but because he’s 26 years old and out of their price range they’ve focused on Soler instead.

Slusser speculates that bidding for Soler could top $20 million, so he certainly won’t be cheap. Last year fellow Cuban defector Leonys Martin got $15.5 million from the Rangers and as long as Soler signs before the new collective bargaining agreement kicks in there are no limits on spending.

Soler is a 6-foot-3, power-hitting outfielder who’ll likely end up in right field and Jim Callis of Baseball America described him as “a 19-year-old athlete with five-tool potential.” And according to Callis he likely would have been a top-five pick in the 2010 draft had he been eligible.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.