With the market for Cuban players especially fruitful this winter, it’s been pretty clear that the Cubs had planned to be heavy players in at least a few of the players set to make the jump to the U.S.
That speculation was validated with the Cubs’ signing of Gerardo Concepcion on Thursday. While the details have yet to be completely released as far as a contract, the Cubs were one of several teams vying to sign the 18-year-old lefty.
Concepcion might not have the name recognition that Yoenis Cespedes or Jorge Soler might carry, but he’s considered one of the “big three” to come out of Cuba this winter, and is considered the top pitcher.
In his 21 appearances with Industriales de la Habana in the Cuban National Series, Concepcion compiled a 10-3 record and a 3.36 ERA, good enough to be named Rookie of the Year.
Concepcion doesn’t have the stuff of an ace. He has a fastball that reaches the low 90s, but is still working on a consistent changeup and curveball. A deceptive delivery figures to be an asset for him. He’s likely to project as a middle-of-the-rotation type, once he does reach the bigs.
Concepcion instantly becomes a top prospect in the Cubs organization, simply because of the fact that their pitching depth in the system is so poor. Even worse is their lack of left handed pitching, meaning Concepcion immediately jumps to the top of that list.
The intriguing thing about Concepcion is the contract that the Cubs signed him to. The deal is believed to be worth $7-8 million. It’s a Major League contract, which, first of all, means he’d have to be added to the 40-man roster once the signing becomes official.
On top of that is the situation with the options. As Brett Taylor over at Bleacher Nation points out, a Major League deal means the Cubs would be required to call Concepcion up to the majors within three or four years, or run the risk of putting him through waivers, due to the fact that he’ll be using option years when he’s in the minors.
Obviously Concepcion has plenty of developing still to do, given the fact that he’s just 18 years old. He’ll likely start in Single A, but will probably be on the fast track to the bigs.
With Concepcion signed, the Cubs will likely turn their attention to Cespedes and Soler, and should have the funds to sign both, if they can pull it off.