CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies are definitely a serious player in the Jorge Soler sweepstakes.
"Our scouts have seen him and we like him," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday. "It may come down to where he wants to play and, of course, the money."
Exactly what it's going to take to sign the 19-year-old Cuban defector remains a mystery that cannot be solved until he actually is declared a free agent. All kinds of rumors have circulated about Soler's price tag. Earlier this week, an incorrect report surfaced that the Chicago Cubs were on the verge of signing Soler to a $27.5 million deal.
A baseball source said there is no way to know for sure when Soler will even become a free agent. There have been reports that the New York Yankees are also seriously pursuing Soler. The baseball source said the Phillies have remained in close contact with Soler and his agents since the young outfielder defected.
The source said he believes whenever Soler is declared a free agent that every team, including the Phillies, will be aware of what offer is being made by each team.
The Phillies' interest in Soler makes sense because the farm system's biggest weakness is in quality position players. The system has been depleted in recent years because of trades that have sent some of the team's best minor-league prospects elsewhere for players like Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence.
At 19, Soler will likely spend considerable time in the minor leagues regardless of what team signs him.