It’s been six weeks since Dave Van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Cubs were going to sign Cuban defector Jorge Soler, yet the 19-year-old outfielder remains unsigned and still hasn’t even officially been granted free agent status.
And today Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com not to believe the hype about Soler being destined for Chicago:
He’s not a free agent. The rumors that we have a deal with him are just completely bogus. I don’t know where that started, but you guys [in the media] should not run with those rumors. They’re just rumors and they have no merit.
Pretty strong words, although that certainly doesn’t rule out Soler eventually winding up with the Cubs when he’s finally declared a free agent. Mooney writes that “there’s no denying that the Cubs have targeted Soler for months and done extensive background work on the prospect.”
And as long as he signs before July 2, he won’t be subjected to the collective bargaining agreement’s new international spending rules. Earlier this month the Cubs did sign fellow Cuban defector Gerardo Concepcion, giving the 20-year-old pitcher $6 million, but the “completely bogus” rumors surrounding Soler have him costing more than $20 million.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.