SAN FRANCISCO (MCT) — The Cubs pursuit of Jorge Soler will intensify this week now that the Cuban outfielder officially has been declared a free agent.
In spring training, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer was forced to deny a report the Cubs had agreed to a four-year, $27 million deal with the defector.
"I will say the rumors that we have a deal with him are completely bogus," Hoyer said. "I don't know where that started, but you guys should not run with those rumors. They are just rumors and they have no merit."
But the Cubs' interest in Soler was real, and now they intend to go all out to reel him in.
Cubs President Theo Epstein and Hoyer watched Soler workout over the winter and manager Dale Sveum has watched video of him.
"There hasn't been any talk about that for a couple months," Sveum said. "I haven't heard his name until today. I guess (it was because) he wasn't a free agent. You'll probably start hearing a lot more about him."
What kind of a hitter is Soler?
"Pretty strong," Sveum said. "He's pretty impressive on video. I don't know if he was as impressive as that kid the other day."
Sveum was referring to Carlos Correa, the Puerto Rican shortstop who may be available when the Cubs pick sixth in Monday's amateur draft.
Soler is likely to sign before July 2. New CBA guidelines after that date will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team before penalties kick in if that amount exceeded.
Brain cramp: Sveum spoke to shortstop Starlin Castro after Castro's mental gaffe on Friday night, when he stopped running on a steal attempt of second because he thought he heard contact off Joe Mather's bat.
Castro was tagged out standing up, which upset his manager who didn't want him running in the situation in the first place.
"Not to know what (Mather) did, thinking it (got) fouled off and didn't even know he swung and you're two runs down …" Sveum said. "What if (Mather) hit a line drive to the outfield and (Castro) got doubled up. Those things are not acceptable. He knew that. Sometimes you have these brain farts, but that's one you can't have happen."
Extra innings: David DeJesus was inserted into the No. 3 hole for the first time, with Mather getting dropped to No. 8. DeJesus went 1-for-3 with a home run and a walk. … Ryan Dempster stayed home from the first leg of the road trip for personal reasons, but is still on tap to start Tuesday in Milwaukee. … Ian Stewart was out of the lineup with a sore left wrist, but grounded out pinch-hitting in the eighth. Sveum said he expects Stewart back on Monday. ___
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