Major League Baseball has not yet declared Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler a free agent. Yet according to a report last night in the Chicago Tribune, Soler has a deal in place with the Cubs, citing specific terms of an agreement. A Cubs official did not respond to a request this morning for comment.
If the report is true, it would be a violation of MLB rules. If Soler still needs an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), an agreement also potentially could violate federal regulations.
Any team that enters into agreement with a Cuban player who still needs to be unblocked would be potentially subject to an OFAC fine and, in theory, disciplinary action from MLB. The league has its own department of investigations, but whether it will look into the reported deal remains to be seen. An MLB official said the league was currently looking into whether Soler has established his residency anywhere yet.
Soler, who turns 20 on Feb. 25, is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound right fielder who was a standout on Cuba's junior circuit and on their junior national team, though he has only a handful of at-bats in Cuba's top league, Serie Nacional. He has been training in the Dominican Republic and his full scouting report is available here.
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