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.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.