The Chicago Cubs won't win a World Series anytime soon. Well, not with most of the current players on the 25-man roster. The Cubs are one of two teams who have won fewer than 21 games as of June 11, 2012. The closest area where a "Strength" could be claimed is with their starting pitchers. That won't necessarily be the case if Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster are traded before the July trading deadline.
Few reinforcements are prepared to challenge for roster spots. The Cubs can gain another year of control on Anthony Rizzo if he remains in Triple-A Iowa for a few more weeks. The Cubs might not want to expose their young players to the chaos with the MLB club. The organization needs something to sell their fans in 2013.
The Cubs added another piece to their farm system when they reportedly signed 20-year-old Cuban defector Jorge Soler. Soler is projected to be an outfielder with five-tool potential. The deal is dependent on Soler taking a physical whenever he arrives in the United States. The earliest indications are that this could be a nine-year contract that's worth approximately $30 million. Soler can opt out of his contract during the arbitration-eligible years.
Let's compare this to 26-year-old Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. The Oakland Athletics signed Cespedes to a four-year, $36-million contract this past offseason. Cespedes has a .275 batting average with 26 RBIs, 15 runs, six home runs and four stolen bases in 131 at-bats . Not bad for a rookie in a pitcher-friendly park and a weak supporting cast.
Cubs president Theo Epstein gained experience with these biddings when he was the Boston Red Sox general manager. The Red Sox bid more than $51.1 million when they acquired Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006. Matsuzaka has battled plenty of injuries en route to a 4.27 ERA in his sixth MLB season.
It's hard to say how these international prospects will perform in North America. It's hard to say how any prospect will do once they reach MLB. Regardless, I'm grateful to see this renewed interest in the farm system. The Cubs had something special when they were developing their own players. Those players included Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano. It's unfortunate that injuries had to derail two of their careers.
The introductory stages of a rebuilding project are gruesome. However, this doesn't have to take a lifetime. The 2003 Detroit Tigers finished with a 43-119 record. They won the American League pennant in 2006. The Washington Nationals won 59 games in 2008 and in 2009. Through 58 games in 2012, the Nationals are winning the National League East despite a lengthy list of injuries.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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