I can well remember his signing by Theo Epstein in June 2012, Theo’s first big international signing. The deal was unprecedented for the Cubs at the time: An untested amateur, from Cuba, signed to a nine-year, $30 million contract.
If Soler had remained healthy and productive, that would have been a bargain, and incidentally, it expired after the 2020 season. There were some opt-outs, but Soler, being oft-injured, didn’t take them. Instead, he signed a $8.05 million deal to remain with the Royals, where the Cubs had traded him after 2016 for Wade Davis.
You know, at the time that wasn’t a bad deal. Davis had been a lockdown closer. The Cubs needed one after Aroldis Chapman departed to free agency. Soler had played 100 games just once in three years with the Cubs (in 2015), and had a great postseason that year (9-for-19, three home runs). But he played less in 2016, barely played that postseason (2-for-13) and after the trade, it took him three more years, until 2019, to have a full MLB season. That was a great year for Soler — playing all 162 games, batting .265/.354/.569 and hitting 48 home runs, which led the American League and set a Royals franchise record.
(Incidentally, Davis had a pretty good year for the Cubs in 2017, left in free agency for the Rockies and has been lousy since then. The Cubs’ failure to win the NLCS in 2017 wasn’t Davis’ fault.)
Soler, meanwhile, wasn’t quite as good in the pandemic season of 2020 and in 2021, played a full season (143 games split between the Royals and Braves) but his numbers didn’t come close to that 2019 performance. He did have a great World Series this year, after missing time on the COVID-19 list: 6-for-20, three home runs.
Soler now hits the free agent market for his age-30 season (he turns 30 in February). Is it worth a reunion on the North Side?
I would say possibly, under one condition: The universal DH. Soler is a terrible outfielder and that’s not going to get any better as he ages. It should be noted that in his best year, 2019, he spent about two-thirds of the time as DH (107 games). That’s his future.
Now, Kyle Schwarber, who I wrote about here recently, is a better hitter than Soler and more likely to stay healthy. He’s also at least competent in left field. But if the Cubs were to sign Schwarber, it would cost a lot more money than Soler. I suggested five years, $90 million for Schwarber. I suspect Soler could be had for, say, four years and $52 million, perhaps tack on a fifth-year option for $16 million with a $3 million buyout.
Would you do that?
This poll is closed
... the Cubs should sign him to a deal like the one proposed in the article
... the Cubs should sign him, but it will take more years and/or dollars
... the Cubs should not sign him. Too expensive and/or injured
Something else (leave in comments)