If the Red Sox get their way, we may finally get to end the 'Right Fielder of the Future' debate. And the winner won't be Kalish, or Ross, or Sweeney, or Daniel Nava. Or, we could know the answer to the "What to do with Jacoby" dilemma.
According to a major league source, the Red Sox do plan to pursue Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, a 20-year-old who is awaiting approval by Major League Baseball to become an international amateur free agent. Though still considered very raw, Soler has tremendous power, with the potential to hit 30-plus homers a season in the majors if he proves capable of fulfilling his potential.
Alex Speier states that "most of the baseball industry" expect Theo Epstein's Cubs to win the bidding war for Soler. But it wasn't that long ago we expected the Cubs and Marlins to get into a bidding war for Yoenis Cespedes, who ended up in Oakland (which I'm sure he couldn't be happier about).
That said, the bidding for Soler could be a little crazy. Speier also reports that, starting in July, baseball is going to not only make signing International Free Agents tougher, but teams are going to be penalized fairly heavily for bidding aggressively. The MLB will be implementing a $2.9 million cap for signing bonuses, with a penalty for every dollar spent beyond that cap. There will also be restrictions on the signing of players in the following amateur signing period. As long as Soler gets locked up by a team by July, he should be in for a hefty payday.
There are obvious arguments against signing Soler. First and foremost, when you combine Crawford's contract with the payday Jacoby is in line for, I think we're tapped out when it comes to outfield payroll. If we have the money to spend, that's probably not the place that needs it the most. Especially on someone who's earning this payday based solely on potential.
And if we do sign Soler, it very well may signal the end of the Ellsbury era. Assuming Soler is legit, or course. Whatever he's going to end up making, it will be a fraction of what Jacoby is going to demand come contract time. If we use Cespedes as a comparison (and by all accounts, Soler isn't quite in his league), Oakland agreed to pay $36 million over 4 years. As Scott projected a few weeks back, the conversation for Jacoby is going to start somewhere in the Kemp-Crawford range, with Boras asking for a 7 or 8 year contract worth north of $140 million.
In the bloated world of baseball free agency, Ellsbury very well may be worth that. But if the Sox can save themselves $100+ million dollars with not a huge drop off in production, that's a move they're going to make.
That said, I still don't see the Sox signing Soler, but crazier things have happened.