Yankees, Phillies going hard after Cuban OF Jorge Soler

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With Yoenis Cespedes officially signed and sealed by Oakland, the market for fellow Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler is really beginning to heat up. And two early front-running suitors have been identified.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the teams “in hardest on” the 19-year-old Soler at this time are the Yankees and Phillies. The Blue Jays had a private workout in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday morning with Soler and the Orioles are scheduled to meet with him Sunday. The Red Sox, Cubs and White Sox have also been linked.

Soler has yet to establish residency in the Dominican and must do so before being granted free agency by Major League Baseball. But it appears the courting process is already well underway. He won’t top Cespedes’ four-year, $36 million deal in total value, but Soler does seem likely to beat him in length.

MLB investigation confirms that the baseball has changed

MLB
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You know the baseballs are different. We know the baseballs are different. Pitchers have been saying the baseballs are different. And now Major League Baseball has acknowledged that the baseballs are different in a report of findings by a team of scientists from some of the top universities in the world, like Stanford, Caltech, and M.I.T.

You can read the whole thing here in PDF form. Here’s the gist …

The ball is not bouncier — or “juiced” — but it is most definitely carrying farther. From MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince …

Though the study did not discover meaningful changes in the ball’s lift, it found that the drag coefficient of MLB balls has decreased since 2015. The researchers used a physics model to calculate that if the change in home run rate was attributable entirely to changes in drag, one would expect the drag coefficient to have decreased by approximately 0.012. The exact change in drag coefficient in the time period studied — if you’re scoring at home — was 0.0153.

It’s not the seams or the core that has changed — those aspects were tested — and it’s not the weather either. In fact, the commision couldn’t figure out what is causing the decrease in drag, despite numerous tests on all elements of the ball. It might simply come down to manufacturing advancements. Looking at you, Rawlings …

“Rawlings is always trying to improve the manufacturing process to make it more uniform,” Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told MLB.com. “So the interesting question that comes up is whether the goal should be to improve the manufacturing process or to keep the ball performing exactly the way it is, regardless of whether it’s improved or not.”

Baseball Prospectus began studying this three years ago, as home runs began to increase around the league. Their write-up on MLB’s report is a must-read.