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  1. #1
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    HHP: The Cuban Defector Gambit

    We all know the Orioles have several gaping holes on the Major League roster, most notably pitching and corner infielders. Left field is of secondary concern since Reimold can be given a shot. Right field is suddenly a concern due to Markakis's injury but you have to pencil him in. 2B is a worry with Roberts injury but there is depth for the position, albeit Andino, Flaherty, Antonelli are pretty risky.

    I don't see any ready made solutions to this problems. Fielder at 1B, sure, but that's a ton of cash to risk at this time, I'm going to assume he signs elsewhere in a preemptive attempt to squash this thread being derailed by Fielder chatter.

    The idea here is to add talent (Cespedes, Soler) in order to free up talent to trade. In essence, create a surplus of talent in the outfield in order to trade from a position of strength to fill positions of weakness. Nobody needs to be traded immediately so the Orioles can wait for the appropriate deal to come along. This is a long term talent building plan.

    Right now, there are two potential impact players available via FA both are Cuban defector's and both play the outfield.

    Jorge Soler a 19 year old OF with big time power projections and athleticism. Callis compares Soler to Bubba Starling and claims he would have been drafted near Starling.

    Yoenis Cespedes a 26 year old OF who has shown great power and talent in the Cuban league and in the WBC.

    According to RotoWorld (quoting Boston Globe) Cespedes is looking to sign a $30+ million contract while Soler projects to cost $20 something million.

    Caveat: There is no way to know if these players have any bias towards particular teams or situations so let just assume they are available and want money for purposes of debate.

    So what about this (assuming the O's think Cespedes and Soler are what they seem to be):

    Sign Cespedes for 4/$35 (maybe an option for some sort on year 4 and/or a 5th year). $8.75 million a year. Might cost more but this seems close enough to discussion.

    Sign Soler for 6 years $25 million. Using pitcher Aroldis Chapman as as comp who signed as a 21 year old (22 in his first season) for 6 years $30 million. $4.16 million a year.

    For the next 4 years this increases payroll by almost $13 million for a starting OF and a top notch OF prospect playing alongside Machado and Schoop. 3 top notch position players all projecting to break into the ML team at about the same time. Moreover, they are coming up behind actual talent at the ML level. Orioles have not had that since...well...the 70's?

    The Orioles would be able, over the next year or two, to trade from a position of strength. Jones, Markakis, Hardy, and Reynolds could be traded due to an excess of talent as opposed to just monetary need. Or keep them and trade the younger player. Or keep them all due to injuries. The team needs talent, go get it!


  2. #2
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    I thought when I saw the title there was another defector, this one named Gambit, and he'd be our target because serious teams will pay market value for Cespedes and Soler and we won't.

    But to your post, I'm all on board with this. I bet Cespedes gets a $45-$50 million contract though - say 5 years. I have a hunch the $60 million goal was an overestimate but these $35 million ones may be under. The Darvish talk before the posting period transitioned from record-breaking to more reasonable posts, but when the dust settled it was still a monster post fee.

    When Cespedes can become a free agent, I'm guessing the contract offers will escalate past the most recent pulled back estimates.

  3. #3
    Lucky Jim's Avatar
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    Intriguing, though 6/$25m seems like a lot of cash for what probabilistically appears to be something like Wily Mo Pena (Soler) - i.e., huge power, great bat speed, possible contact issues, big frame that will outgrow up-the-middle projections.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Jim View Post
    Intriguing, though 6/$25m seems like a lot of cash for what probabilistically appears to be something like Wily Mo Pena (Soler) - i.e., huge power, great bat speed, possible contact issues, big frame that will outgrow up-the-middle projections.
    The report I linked pegged him in the mid $20's, I'm using 6 years based on the contract Chapman signed.

    The comp I linked suggested Soler would have been drafter right around Bubba Starling who got a $7.5 million signing bonus spread over 3 years $2.5 million a year.

    The Starling comp has to be a absolute minimun since Soler's value isn't artificially suppressed by the draft rules. However, Soler would need to sign a 5 year deal minimum since he won't be under team control sue to service time for 6 years (like Starling is). Whatever Soler signs for is what he gets until the deal is over. I projected $4.16 million a year for 6 years. These seems reasonable given the available comps.

    Is it worth it? If he really is Starling/Machado level talent, and it takes $5-$8 million bonus to sign those guys given given the inherent advantage to the drafting team, then it stands to reason it makes sense to spend market value for a guy like Soler.

    How else can the Orioles add top tier prospects to the system? They only get 1 top round draft pick a year. If you blow it (Hobgood, Rowell) then they have to pay more to make up for it.

  5. #5
    Lucky Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srock View Post
    The report I linked pegged him in the mid $20's, I'm using 6 years based on the contract Chapman signed.

    The comp I linked suggested Soler would have been drafter right around Bubba Starling who got a $7.5 million signing bonus spread over 3 years $2.5 million a year.

    The Starling comp has to be a absolute minimun since Soler's value isn't artificially suppressed by the draft rules. However, Soler would need to sign a 5 year deal minimum since he won't be under team control sue to service time for 6 years (like Starling is). Whatever Soler signs for is what he gets until the deal is over. I projected $4.16 million a year for 6 years. These seems reasonable given the available comps.

    Is it worth it? If he really is Starling/Machado level talent, and it takes $5-$8 million bonus to sign those guys given given the inherent advantage to the drafting team, then it stands to reason it makes sense to spend market value for a guy like Soler.

    How else can the Orioles add top tier prospects to the system? They only get 1 top round draft pick a year. If you blow it (Hobgood, Rowell) then they have to pay more to make up for it.
    I'm not really following. Why is this "market value" for a guy who is going to start in A-ball? Particularly when (i) there is a Rule IV draft; and (ii) int'l spending will be capped in 2012-2013? I mean, I get that you only have one first-round draft choice, but does that mean that Soler is worth 5x as much? Fundamental to Cespedes' and Chapman's big paydays was their near-ness to MLB-value. If not MLB-ready, they were MLB-cusp. With now-MLB skills. Soler is far more projection.

    Are we going to pay him $4m a year to be an A, AA, and AAA player?
    Last edited by Lucky Jim; 01-10-2012 at 01:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Jim View Post
    I'm not really following. Why is this "market value" for a guy who is going to start in A-ball? Particularly when (i) there is a Rule IV draft; and (ii) int'l spending will be capped in 2012-2013? I mean, I get that you only have one first-round draft choice, but does that mean that Soler is worth 5x as much? Fundamental to Cespedes' and Chapman's big paydays was their near-ness to MLB-value. If not MLB-ready, they were MLB-cusp. With now-MLB skills. Soler is far more projection.
    Nobody really knows! There are very few comps to use so signing anyone like Soler is more a gut check then anything else. I listed the best comps I could think of: Chapman, Machado, and Starling.

    What would Machado and Starling get if they were FA instead of draft picks? It's hard to say because not many players at that talent level are ever free agents.

    What we do know:

    1) The market value should be more then drafter players get.
    2) The contract will come down a bidding war where money isn't they only consideration, ie. team/region bias or even contract perks.

    Are we going to pay him $4m a year to be an A, AA, and AAA player?
    Realistically, a $25 million contract would be backloaded, include a signing bonus, and likely some sort of options at the end. So no, the Oriole's would not be paying $4 million in year 1-3.

  7. #7
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    So, basic questions:

    1. How long do you think Soler stays in the minors?
    2. What do you think his ceiling is?
    3. What do you think his floor is?
    4. What do you think his probability of reaching his ceiling is?
    5. What do you consider his mid-point projection?

    I think this is an interesting discussion, and it can help us separate gambits from mere gambling.

    Realistically, a $25 million contract would be backloaded, include a signing bonus, and likely some sort of options at the end. So no, the Oriole's would not be paying $4 million in year 1-3.
    So, MLB value-wise, what can we expect, and at what cost?
    Last edited by Lucky Jim; 01-10-2012 at 02:30 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Jim View Post
    So, basic questions:

    1. How long do you think Soler stays in the minors?
    2. What do you think his ceiling is?
    3. What do you think his floor is?
    4. What do you think his probability of reaching his ceiling is?
    5. What do you consider his mid-point projection?
    The real question is this, I think:

    If you value Soler at $x (say, $15 million), would you pay $3-5 million more than that to sign him? Should the Orioles?

    Should the O's be the team to overpay for these guys? I say yes, because overpaying for Soler is much cheaper than overpaying for many FAs.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookinUp View Post
    The real question is this, I think:

    If you value Soler at $x (say, $15 million), would you pay $3-5 million more than that to sign him? Should the Orioles?

    Should the O's be the team to overpay for these guys? I say yes, because overpaying for Soler is much cheaper than overpaying for many FAs.
    That's because he doesn't have any current MLB value.

  10. #10
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    I think BAL would be better off building a $10 MM dollar facility in the DR, a $3 MM facility in Brazil, a $3 MM dollar facility in Mexico, a $3 MM facility in Korea, a $3 MM facility in Italy and a $3 MM facility in Panama.

  11. #11
    Lucky Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stotle View Post
    I think BAL would be better off building a $10 MM dollar facility in the DR, a $3 MM facility in Brazil, a $3 MM dollar facility in Mexico, a $3 MM facility in Korea, a $3 MM facility in Italy and a $3 MM facility in Panama.
    This. Or signing 50 guys for $500K each over the next five years.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stotle View Post
    I think BAL would be better off building a $10 MM dollar facility in the DR, a $3 MM facility in Brazil, a $3 MM dollar facility in Mexico, a $3 MM facility in Korea, a $3 MM facility in Italy and a $3 MM facility in Panama.
    I sure hope the two decisions aren't related.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Jim View Post
    This. Or signing 50 guys for $500K each over the next five years.
    DD is new and getting his international apparatus in place. I assume he has a plan to build that up to something reasonable and worthy. I agree, that should take precedence. I don't know Soler from Cirque du Soleil, but I assume his higher price tag is a reflection of talent level and probability. If he's really similar to a bunch of 16 y.o. Dominican kids, than yes, sign a bunch of them to improve your probabilities. That should always be the goal. On the other hand, does that mean we should NEVER participate in the high end int'l FA market?

    In the end, if our scouts look at Soler as a guy who will likely arrive with Machado and Schoop, with similar impact potential, I sure hope they're not just dismissing the idea out of hand.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookinUp View Post
    I sure hope the two decisions aren't related.



    DD is new and getting his international apparatus in place. I assume he has a plan to build that up to something reasonable and worthy. I agree, that should take precedence. I don't know Soler from Cirque du Soleil, but I assume his higher price tag is a reflection of talent level and probability. If he's really similar to a bunch of 16 y.o. Dominican kids, than yes, sign a bunch of them to improve your probabilities. That should always be the goal. On the other hand, does that mean we should NEVER participate in the high end int'l FA market?

    In the end, if our scouts look at Soler as a guy who will likely arrive with Machado and Schoop, with similar impact potential, I sure hope they're not just dismissing the idea out of hand.
    There won't be as much of a high-end int'l FA market after this year, no? And does holding back on a toolsy 19 y.o. at $20+m mean writing off, say, Salcedo at $1.6m? It's not an either/or.

    I think you make my point for me, though, when you hope for similar impact to Schoop. What did he cost?*


    *In truth, he'd be a better prospect than Schoop. But the question is, how much better and at what cost?
    Last edited by Lucky Jim; 01-10-2012 at 03:37 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LookinUp View Post
    I sure hope the two decisions aren't related.
    I think the decision to sign an IFA for $2 MM should not impact the decision to sign a free agent or an overslot draft kid under the old rules.

    I think whenever an organization is spending $25 MM it is going to affect other decisions that are made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stotle View Post
    I think BAL would be better off building a $10 MM dollar facility in the DR, a $3 MM facility in Brazil, a $3 MM dollar facility in Mexico, a $3 MM facility in Korea, a $3 MM facility in Italy and a $3 MM facility in Panama.
    I concur this type of spending has nothing todo with signing free agents, two entirely different sets of accounting. Facilities take time to build and to start producing results and include long term costs to operate. Players are a commodity.

    Building out such an apparatus is desired, but since the are not currently in place, the only way to acquire international talent is signing guys like Soler, Schoop, etc.

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