Phils a long shot to sign Cuban star Soler


The Phillies have had longstanding interest in Cuban defector Jorge Soler and are scouting his workouts in the Dominican Republic as he gets ready to hit the open market.

Soler, a 19-year-old outfielder a gifted hitting prospect, is expected to be declared a free agent in the coming days or weeks. The Phillies are among a handful of clubs with interest in him.

So, do the Phils really have a shot to sign this guy?

Sure they do.

But industry insiders consider the Phils a long shot.


Well, estimates have Solers price tag possibly reaching 25 million. Given that the Phillies have never been huge players on the international market, an expenditure like that would be rather shocking for them. The highest bonus that the Phils have ever given to an international prospect was 1.2 million for Korean pitcher Seung Hak Lee in 2001. The Phils made big news last summer when they signed 16-year-old Venezuelan outfielder Carlos Tocci for 759,000. That is the second-highest bonus theyve ever given a Latin American prospect. Outfielder Josue Perez got 850,000 in 1999.

This isnt to say the Phillies dont spend money. Obviously they do. They have three players (Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay) making at least 20 million this season and two others (Cole Hamels and Chase Utley) making 15 million. However, the Phils have never been keen on huge signing bonuses for unproven international prospects. Soler, who projects as a power bat in right field or first base, has great talent and upside, but scouts say he needs developmental time. He projects to play at the Single A level in 2012.

Budgeting for Hamels impending free agencyhis price tag is expected to be in the 20 million per year rangecould impact the Phillies willingness to meet Solers price. Luxury tax concerns could also be a factor as Soler may require a big-league contract. The Phils came up about 500,000 shy of the luxury-tax threshold last season and will be in the neighborhood again this year.

The Phils, and other teams, are waiting for Soler to be declared a free agent so they can officially hear what his price is. It wouldnt be wise for a club to pull out of the running before it even hears the players price. The Yankees, Cubs, White Sox, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Marlins are also interested in Soler. One baseball executive predicted that new Cubs general manager Theo Epstein would look to make a big splash and land Soler. Stay tuned.

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