Cubs GM denies having agreement with Jorge Soler, calls rumors “completely bogus”

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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.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.