MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs are one of numerous teams with top scouts in the Dominican Republic this week to look at power-hitting Cuban defector Yoennis Cespedes.
But the Cuban defector the Cubs are targeting with greater interest, according to sources, is another athletic, hard-hitting outfielder - a seven-years-younger version of the flavor-of-the-month Cespedes: Jorge Soler, 19.
Soler, who defected this year and is expected to become a free agent within weeks, is exactly the kind of player the Cubs' new regime is looking for as it restocks the farm system and tries to build a long-term home-core contender.
The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees are among the teams said to also be interested in the 6-foot-3 Soler.
``He's got a Hanley Ramirez-type body,'' Washington's international scouting director, Johnny DiPuglia told the Washington Post. ``Plus arm. Plus bat speed. He's a good kid, a good-energy kid.''
MEETINGS NOTES - Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer was vague on whether the Cubs planned to retool their roster more through trades or free agency, and talks with agents (for Aaron Harang, Mark Burhrle, Livan Hernandez, etc.) and teams were at full-speculation-fueling speed Tuesday night as GMs filtered into the Pfister Hotel lobby, where dozens of player agents also were gathering, after dinner. ... One pitcher to keep in mind as the hot stove league simmers toward next month's winter meetings: lefty Chris Capuano, who went 11-12, 4.55 (31 starts for Mets in '11) and is said to be seeking a two-year deal (made almost $4 million with incentives last season.