Source: Sox high on young Cuban outfielder

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Source: Sox high on young Cuban outfielder

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Over the winter, the Red Sox were conspicuous by their absence when it came to bidding on Yoenis Cespedes, the flashy Cuban outfielder who defected and became a free agent.

They don't plan the approach with Cespedes's countryman Jorge Soler.

Soler is close to achieve residency in the Dominican Republic, after which he will file a request with Major League Baseball to become a free agent.

When he's granted that right, he'll get auctioned off to the highest bidder. The Red Sox have signaled that they intend to be right in the middle of the bidding, according to an industry source.

Why the interest on Soler, but not Cespedes, who signed a four-year, 36 million deal with the Oakland A's? In a word: age.

While Cespedes is 26, Soler is just 20.

"With the other guy (Cespedes)," said an industry source, "any time spent in the minor leagues is a negative. You're paying big money for him to develop."

It isn't clear whether the Sox -- and other teams -- believe that Soler projects as a better player than Cespedes. What is clear is that, given the talent and the age, the potential is there for a bigger upside.

Said a major league executive who has watched Soler: "I see him as a high impact guy with huge power. His upside is as a right fielder; the downside is as a left fielder."

Asked for a comparable player for Soler, one talent evaluator said: "Ron Gant."

Gant played 16 seasons in the big leagues, many with the Atlanta Braves. He finished his career with 321 homers, 1,008 RBI, 243 steals and an OPS of .803.

While the market for Cespedes never materialized as projected -- Oakland didn't emerge as a factor until the very end -- it's thought that interest in Soler will be greater, chiefly because of his younger age and room for growth.

A number of big-market teams are expected to make bids, including the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees.

It's likely that Soler would begin at Single A ball, but the expectation is he could leapfrog through the minors is relatively short order -- somewhere between two and three seasons.

Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred' Rinne

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Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Pred' Rinne

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering how much of a dark cloud Slava Voynov’s presence is going to bring to the World Cup of Hockey.

*PHT’s Joey Alfieri tracks the ups and downs of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who had a frustrating season.

*Jonathan Drouin says that he “definitely wants to be” part of the Tampa Bay Lightning after a very rocky year with a happy ending for all.

*Speaking of the World Cup of Hockey, Taylor Hall was one of a number of deserving Canadian players – including P.K. Subban -- left off the roster.

*The San Jose Sharks have come a long way from their inaugural season in the league.

*Ottawa Senators senior advisor Bryan Murray is still getting used to a new role after a change in the Sens front office structure.

*Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has plenty of reasons to be proud after a very good year running hockey ops for the Penguins.

*For something completely different: this January Rolling Stone magazine piece on Stevie Nicks was an excellent retrospective.