8/13/2013 8:00 P.M. ET
Cubs invest in international prospects despite penalty
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cubs were expected to face a penalty for overspending in the international player market, but Theo Epstein said that's part of their plan.
"We don't see it as much of a penalty," said Epstein, president of baseball operations. "We budgeted for it with respect to the 100 percent tax. Next year, we'll spread our money around with some pitching instead of going after the large investments. We like the large investments this year."
On Monday, the Cubs signed Taiwanese right-handed pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng for a $1.625 million bonus. They've also signed Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, considered the top international prospect on MLB.com's rankings, for $2.8 million, plus No. 3 Gleyber Torres of Venezuela.
With those signings, plus others, the Cubs face a penalty for exceeding their spending pool by 10 to 15 percent. The penalty would be a 100 percent tax on the overage as well as restrictions on 2014-15 spending. Because teams cannot acquire more than 50 percent of their initial international bonus pool, the maximum bonus pool for the Cubs would be $6.836 million. With the addition of Tseng, the Cubs have committed $7.895 million to international prospects.
Because the Cubs had the second-most pool money, which was determined by how the team finished in 2012, they wanted to take advantage of being in that position, Epstein said.
"That [international] market, you're talking $1 million here, $1 million there, and that's the type of thing we can afford," Epstein said Tuesday. "Right now, we're not in a position to throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency, but we can do it in that [international] market and try to monopolize it as much as we can."
Prospect Soler expected to miss Minor League season
CHICAGO -- Cubs' No. 3 prospect Jorge Soler, sidelined since June 14 with a stress fracture in his left tibia, most likely will not rejoin Class A Daytona this season, but he still could play in the Arizona Fall League.
Soler, 21, was examined Monday in Mesa, Ariz., where he is rehabbing, and the test results were sent to Chicago. Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said the early reports show that Soler still needs time to heal and his leg will remain in a boot.
The Arizona Fall League begins Oct. 8.
"The Fall League is still very much a possibility," Epstein said. "The Minor League season is looking like it might not happen at this point."
When injured, Soler was expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. The Cuban outfielder was batting .281 with eight home runs, 13 doubles, one triple and 35 RBIs in 55 games with Daytona. He apparently fouled a ball off his left shin in Spring Training, and the injury flared up before the Florida State League All-Star Game.
Bryant, Vogelbach ready to contribute at Daytona
CHICAGO -- First-round pick Kris Bryant and Dan Vogelbach, a second-round selection in 2011, were both promoted to Class A Daytona, with Bryant making the biggest leap from short-season Boise.
"In Bryant's case, we wanted him to shake the rust off in short-season ball and get him adjusted to what life in pro baseball is like," said Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations. "He started out a little rough, that 0-for-5 [in first game with] five [strikeouts], but it was just a matter of getting his timing back. For the last week or so, he's just been locked in. ... He had nothing much left to do at that level."
Bryant, ranked No. 4 among the Cubs' Top 20 prospects, was named the Northwest League Player of the Week on Monday, going 9-for-17 with three doubles, one triple, a home run and five RBIs in five games.
The Cubs wanted Jeimer Candelario to continue to get regular playing time at third base at low A Kane County, plus Daytona is headed for the playoffs, which is also why Bryant was added along with Vogelbach, ranked No. 11 on the Top Prospects list.
"[Vogelbach] has been pretty consistent driving the baseball and getting on base, and he's working hard on his defense," Epstein said. "We felt it made sense for him to move up at this time."
Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, and manager Dale Sveum will likely meet soon to discuss possible September callups.
"We don't want to clutter the locker room with people who aren't going to play but [add] people who we want to see and get their feet wet and get some playing time before next season," Sveum said.
• There are no plans to have Junior Lake play anywhere but outfield with the Cubs for the rest of this season.
Lake came up as an infielder, but when he was called up from Triple-A Iowa, he was inserted into the outfield because of injuries.
"Right now, with our personnel, he's not playing third base," Sveum said.
• Scott Baker begins his second rehab stint with hopes of getting into a Major League game next month. Baker is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Rain interrupted his scheduled starts.
"The only limitation is health," said Epstein.
• The Cubs are lacking impact players at the catching position in the Minor Leagues. Epstein said they have talked about converting a few kids to catcher, and have targeted three players. That will begin this fall during instructional league.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.