Cubs sign Gerardo Concepcion

Cubs sign Gerardo Concepcion

So I go out to buy some dinner and I come back and lo and behold!  Per Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald, the Cubs have signed Cuban LHP Gerardo Concepcion to a $7M MLB contract per Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.  The MLB deal means that Concepcion must be put on the 40 man roster.  It also means he'll be invited to spring training.  My guess is given the contract plus Concepcion's polish and level of competition faced, he'll start the year at full season low Class A Peoria.

Concepcion was considered the 3rd best prospect to come out of Cuba this year and the best pitcher.  Based on scouting reports and the assumption that the Cubs leaned toward the more positive reviews, I have to believe the Cubs think he has some projection left and projects as more than a bottom of the rotation starter.

The Cubs were in dire need of starting LHP as they did not have a single prospect in Baseball America's top 30.  Concepcion likely goes to the head of that list.  In fact, Kevin Goldstein just tweeted that he would rank him as the Cubs 6th best prospect.

In case you missed it, here is what I said about him a week ago...

Some scouts see him as a 5th starter because he simply doesn't miss many bats, but others see some projection left in the 18 year old's 6'2 wiry frame.  He peaks in the low 90s right now, has a curveball which gets mixed reviews,and a change-up in progress.  His mechanics also divide scouts.  He throws across the body which some say give him deception, while others think it prevents him from being more consistent with his breaking stuff.  In short, it seems like there's a wide range of opinion.  A team who sees some projection left will sign him and I understand the Cubs are among these teams.

Here's what his agent Jamie Torres had to say about Concepcion,

"I would not throw him into the major leagues yet. While I think he can make it really fast, he is only 19. But this kid has good stuff, a great makeup and he's extremely intelligent."

It was a pretty hefty price, but I still think it's a good signing considering the Cubs lack of LHP prospects and the fact that players like Concepcion won't be readily available under the new CBA which takes affect this summer.

The signing isn't expected to affect the Cubs pursuit of top 2 Cuban prospects Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.  The Cubs reportedly have the money to sign all of them.

Filed under: International players



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    Good signing! Now to get Cespedes and Soler.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Wonder if it'll help to recruit Soler and/or Cespedes

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It probably doesn't hurt.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yes. Get them both. It only costs money, and the Cubs shed a lot of major league payroll. Get them both.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Last chance to do it too (well, at least in Soler's case). Older FAs will still go on open market.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah that damn CBA. I hate Bud Selig.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I don't think Concepcion would have gotten that much otherwise, but under the circumstances, I think it's one the Cubs felt they had to make for a lot of reasons. They need LHP (and talent, in general),and they're investing a lot in Latin America and need to make a statement. Hoping Concepcion opens the door for others.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm sorry, I know you've probably been through this before - but can you clarify the differences again on how our courtship of the Cuban 3 would be different under the new CBA vs. this current one? I'm not sure I fully understand the implications...thanks!

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Ryno...sorry I missed this question in chaos yesterday. The CBA will include a "pool" of money for FAs in the future. The amount of money you get is based on winning pct. The lower end of the scale you're on the more money you get. Shouldn't hurt the Cubs in the short term as they'll be toward the top probably next year, and the Cubs may have a good shot at landing one of their top choices. After they start winning, it won't be so easy.

  • The nice thing is that the Cubs can take their time with Concepcion. With their new commitment to player development and the new academy in the Dominican Republic, Concepcion can turn into a top prospect.

  • In reply to Alex:

    The Cubs were one of the teams who really saw some projection and upside left -- and it fills a great need. He's pretty polished. I think he'd make it faster than Soler.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree.. My biggest concern is that if he throws across his body, he is putting extra stress on his arm and shoulder. I'm hoping the Cubs can work on that with him.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Some guys have made great careers that way -- and some think it gives him great deception. I think that one is up for debate. Right now I don't where the Cubs stand on that one.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Randy Johnson comes to mind right off as a LHP who threw like that. I think he did ok...

  • In reply to eaton53:

    He didn't do bad at all :) Concepcion doesn't have that kind of stuff, but it's not bad either and that deception might actually help him. I also remember a pitcher named Scott McGregor with the Orioles who used to throw completely against his body and he wasn't a fireballer at all. Had a pretty nice career for himself.

  • Great signing! I don't know how you can't see some projection in him. He's 18! Most lefties mature later than righties. Leave him in the minors for several years and let him perfect his stuff. If he is consistently in the 90's with his FB now, then arm strength won't be an issue. Don't rush this kid!

  • In reply to jimmy mac1:

    He still looks like he can fill out some and he has decent height at 6'2". I wouldn't say he's consistently in the low 90s. He peaks there but goes from anywhere from 88-92 mph. But he's still young and if he can just add a tick or two, it's suddenly a pretty good FB.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    His whole package should get better, not only as he fills out, but as the Cubs straighten his mechanics out.

  • I believe Ricketts and team are meeting with Cespedes while they are in the Dominican this week. Any word on that John? Great signing with Concepcion. I hope it lures the other Cubans over. We can have our own little Miami Heat big 3 if we get them all :)

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    No word but they're going to make a big push to get him. I can't believe this is our Cubs team that's doing this. I'm used to sitting back and letting other teams take chances on talent.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Amen. This is why I hung my W flag the day the Theo signing became official.

  • NICE! Very nice pick up! Glad they were able to get him. I hope they can get one of the other two.

  • Bonus was $7M per Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. I think that's a pretty good deal considering he's now our top LHP prospect, a top 10 guy, and this is the last year to make such signings.

  • This is the first time in some time that it truly feels like a Chicago team has a blueprint of what they want to build, rather than just making whatever move seems right at the time.

    So friggin refreshing.

  • In reply to Steve4cash:

    Exactly! It feels strange to be on the right side of the fence for a change.

  • More news. The deal is a MLB contract, meaning he must be put on the 40 man roster.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    so a trade is coming?

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    My guess is we'll waive Andy Sonnanstine. Cubs just signed a similar pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league deal

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Why on Earth did they give him an MLB contract?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I'd rather they didn't of course, but I imagine there was some heavy competition. I have a feeling this is more then acquiring a good LHP prospect. Cubs looking to make presence felt in Latin America. They have a big investment there.

  • Very nice job by Cubs ! I love the fact that the Cubs are now big players in the international market, it's about time !!! As for the MLB contact, my guess is that was the condition on him signing.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think that's what's getting lost in this. This puts them on the map and puts them in prime position for Cespedes and/or Soler.

  • this is a great pick up and if its a mlb contract then is a Garza trade coming? Soto? Byrd? I think if the cubs can sign cespedes and soler and develop their top prospects rizzo, baez, jackson, vogelbach etc. the Cubs will have a great future lineup. Any news on other cubans or trades?

  • In reply to Chicago Cubs Fan 24:

    I'm going to guess that they'll waive Sonnanstine. He has a decent chance to get through.

  • Major league deal means he is on team no older than 22 years old...not sure I like that.
    I don't believe this helps with the other Cubans though, they go where the money is.

  • In reply to Norm:

    Can't say I blame them. Same pretty much goes for all MLB players. I'm fine with the money, I don't like the idea of the MLB deal so much. Cubs must think he can move quickly.

  • What do you mean - Concepcion's polish?? I thought he was Cuban.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Haha! It took me a second on that one. Well played!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Funny. As an aside, did you know that the word p-o-l-i-s-h is the only word in the English language that changes pronounciation based on whether it is capitalized or not?

  • BTW John,

    Now that Edwin Jackson took a 1 year contract, I can continue to dream of the Cubs signing him to a below market, multi year deal. It would just have to be next offseason, which would make more sense for this team anyway.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Good point. Didn't consider that angle but it makes sense. Cubs may be in much better position to pursue him next offseason.

  • I'm happy that we got at least 1 of the Cubans, but the deal is curious...perhaps they think he may be older than his papers say? Nothing wrong with a polished 18 year old lefty though.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    I'd say there's almost zero chance of that being false. The Cubans want to keep their players, they'd have no incentive to call them younger than they are because it would only make them more enticing to MLB scouts.

    The MLB deal is probably the result of 10 teams being in pursuit, the new CBA, and the Cubs having a big stake in signing Latin American talent. Most think it's an overpay, but I think the Cubs were buying more than just a LHP here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I never thought of this before, but given the new CBA, there is now an incentive for Latin players to lie about their ages to make themselves older to avoid the limit ...

  • In reply to JB88:

    Ha! Great point. Now that would be quite a shift. It'd be much better to be 23 than 22 as far as money goes. Teams would get a pleasant surprise that way instead of the unpleasant one they get now. I still rule it out in general for Cuban players and probably Pacific Rim players as well because they have top leagues and have little incentive to lose talent to the U.S.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh, when it comes to Cubans and the Pacific Rim players, I totally agree. But given the new spending limit and the Cubs now presence in the DR, I was just thinking how do the Cubs use that to their advantage? Get those 16 year olds to suddenly end up with 23 year old birth certificates, of course ;)

  • In reply to JB88:

    I'd love to see those IDs. McLovin anyone?

  • I find it disconcerting that Matt Garza still hasn't been signed. That hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    My guess has been a buzzer beating deal. Wonder what Jackson got? Wonder if they're keeping the price tag vague on purpose so as not to influence the arb hearing. They said 8-12M, which just so happens to be the Garza range.

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    Just out of curiosity how long is this deal for? the way i read it, it is only for1 year. In that case what is the use.

  • In reply to Larry:

    It's a multi-year deal but exact details aren't out there. A similar player, Noel Arguelles, signed a 5 year/7M deal 2 years ago.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thank you john, love reading your articles. They are always well written.

  • In reply to Larry:

    Your welcome...and thank you!

  • John,

    Do you think that signing Concepcion will accelerate the signing of Cespedes? If Theo and TR are actually in the Dominican now, I would imagine that they are pushing hard to get it done before they return.

    You would have to think that with the Cubs going so high on Concepcion, you would have to think that McLoed really sees some things in him that he likes. They wouldn't have paid him nearly that much money, if they thought he would only be a back of the rotation arm.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I do think they Cubs are pushing hard to get something done with Cespedes. There's probably a few factors in play with the signing and one of them is that the Cubs probably see some upside and projection in Concepcion. There are also intangibles about trying to get a stronger foothold in Latin America and, specifically Cuba, and perhaps even bringing in another Cuban to ease the transition of either Cespedes or Soler.

  • If the Cubs are able to sign all three, and I really hope that they do, then you have to think it will send a huge message to the rest of the Central and the National League. Theo, Jed and co have come to play.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I think it definitely says the Cubs are serious players in the international market -- even if they get just one of those guys. The Cubs have been reluctant to spend a lot of money in Latin America in the past but that looks to be changing.

  • Very nice signing. One down, two to go : )

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    Kevin Goldstein was on MLBR with Mike Ferrin last night. He liked this deal, and he said that Concepion would be #6 when he redid his Cubs' Top 10 Prospects list.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I didn't get a chance to catch that. He seems to like Concepcion as a prospect, did he talk more about the contract?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He talked about both.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Was he still ripping it?

  • Going back to Norm's post earlier. So an MLB contract means that he gets three options. I assume that starts this spring. So max, he gets to spend three years in the minors, correct? That does concern me a little bit with him only being 18 or 19 (I've seen both ages reported). Although, I've heard that Cuba's league has been compared to AA on a talent level, so for this kid to be rookie of the year as a starter is a pretty big accomplishment. I wouldn't worry too much about the low strikeout rate. I would think that would be pretty typical for someone that much younger than the rest of the league. It said his strength is his curve and change, so with that low of an ERA, I would guess he induces a lot of ground balls.

    One final thought...if Concepcion got an MLB deal, I would guess that Cespedes and Soler would also get MLB deals. That would mean cutting some of the cubs acquired depth to sign all three. Any thoughts on who the next two to go after Sonnanstine?

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    In reply to jimmy mac1:

    Gotta love the agressiveness of this front office..They're going young and their going hard....It's about time the Cubs organization went this direction..I was getting disgusted with the bandaid approach employed by Hendry and MacPhail before him..If I never get to see the likes of Milton Bradley, Jeromy Burnitz, Henry Rodriguez types again donning Cubs blue, i'll be thrilled..

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Completely agree Luigi. Cubs may get some names like that along the way, but they'll either be stopgaps (like DeJesus) or guys who still have some upside (Ian Stewart). I can live with that knowing there's more of a plan in place.

  • In reply to jimmy mac1:

    That would be right. At first I was guessing he'd start in Peoria, but now I'm not so sure. He may start in Daytona. That would put him 3 steps away.

    Cespedes is 100% certain to get a major league deal but not sure on Soler. I hope not as I think it may take him more than 3 years. As for who to cut, it's getting to be tough. I'll wait and see what happens as far as deals/compensation.

  • Good luck to the Cubs today at the Garza arbitration hearing (assuming it gets that far).

    An organizational win on this case, in my opinion, really opens the door to one more big trade that brings in that extra load of talent that will benefit the Cubs for years.

    Not that I am trying to shove Garza out the door, but it would be nice to have that added flexibility, as when the other teams will see that they're getting surplus value by getting a Garza at a good salary, they're going to provide more in return.

  • Garza signed by the way for 9.5M, post coming...

  • Here's a link to a little fuller report on Concepcio;

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks for the link. I'll have to say that's an awfully optimistic report. If he was 92-94 mph with a wicked slider from the left side he'd have teams all over him the way they're on Cespedes on Soler -- and his K/9 numbers would have to be way higher than they were last season.

    That's not the info I have on him at all. More 88-92 mph and relies on his CB as his secondary pitch, which shows great potential but doesn't break sharply enough at times.

    I'd like to know if that was a first-hand report and if not, where he got that info from.

  • Not that I am comparing them in ANY way. But missing bats is extremely overrated, getting outs is what matters. I remember some guy the Cubs thought was a mid to back end rotation guy because he did not miss many bats and topped out at around 92 mph. They let him walk with a low ball offer during FA. What was his name again? Oh yeah, now I remember, Maddux.

    To paraphrase my favorite baseball movie (Bull Durham): Strikeouts are fascist. Ground balls are more democratic.

  • In reply to jbful:

    Ha! Great line from a great movie. You can get by with that 92 mph fastball, but you need great command. If he can develop it, and he's already pretty good for an 18 yr old, he could wind up being well worth the bonus.

  • In reply to jbful:

    Sorry, have to disagree with everything here.
    The Cubs did NOT believe Maddux was a mid to back end rotation guy when they lost him in free agency.
    K's are better because they don't rely on the rest of the team to complete the outs. If Pitcher A and Pitcher B are the same, but A strikes out 50 more while B allows 50 more balls in play, there is no telling how many of those 50 balls in play will find a hole or create an error or end up as a sac fly to left.
    K's are still king for pitcher.
    K's + ground balls = Ace caliber

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