Fresh off a World Series MVP award, Jorge Soler is thriving. The upcoming free agent has certainly made his case for a team, if not many, to explore adding his services to their roster next season. That said, in an offseason full of questions for the Chicago Cubs, should the team explore a reunion with the Cuban slugger?
Soler originally signed with the Cubs out of Cuba in 2012. By 2014, Soler debuted with the team at age 22 and teased fans about the future. A .292/.330/.573 slash line along with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 20 games gave Cubs fans faith. In 2015, his first full season, Soler slashed .262/.324/.399 coupled with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs.
However, after the acquisition of Jason Heyward in the offseason before the 2016 season, Soler was relegated to a bench role. Following the Cubs' World Series victory, Soler was dealt to Kansas City for closer Wade Davis.
In 2017, Soler struggled to stay healthy, but when healthy produced. He was better in 2018, but 2019 was the season he became a sensation.
To the tune of 48 home runs and 117 RBIs, Jorge Soler was a machine for the Kansas City Royals. He played his first complete season and looked like the star the Cubs hoped he would be when they originally signed him. However, 2020 was a different season for the Cuban outfielder. A down season for Soler wasn't terribly uncharacteristic, as numerous stars around the league struggled. But, Soler rebounded in 2021.
This season, Soler played 149 games between Kansas City and Atlanta. In 94 games with the Royals, he slashed .192/.288/.370 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs. However, once landing with the streaking Braves, Soler flipped the script by slashing .269/.358/.524 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs in just 55 games. The 29-year-old looked like himself again once exiting Kansas City.
One fun fact about Soler's World Series MVP award is that he is the first Cubs original system player (drafted or signed as a teenager) to ever win the honor.
Given the Cubs' World Series drought, this fact isn't terribly surprising. However, the fact that no other has won with another team is pretty surprising. Soler can put a feather in his cap as the first.
The Fit with the Cubs
There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the impending offseason. Many predict there will be a lockout as the MLB and MLBPA struggle to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. However, once they eventually do agree, there may be some significant amendments to baseball.
One such amendment is the addition of the designated hitter in the National League. The league saw success with the model in 2020, but 2021 once again showed why pitchers shouldn't hit. Yes, Shohei Ohtani is an exception, but there are very few pitchers that can hit well. In fact, there were instances where a pitcher would step to the plate and take three consecutive strikes without swinging.
Let's assume the DH is added to the NL, Jorge Soler immediately becomes a candidate that makes sense for the Cubs to bring back. Heading into the upcoming season, there are only a handful of players from the end of the 2021 season that will be starting for the Cubs in 2022. In fact, if the Cubs don't intend to pursue Nicholas Castellanos or another significant bat, perhaps Soler is a perfect option.
Certainly Soler will be chasing a deal with some length on it. However, if the Cubs locked him up to a three-year deal, he would hit the open market just before turning 34 with the chance to sign another contract. There is not any certainty that he'd be interested in that type of deal, but it's worth approaching him with the idea for the Cubs.
The Final Word
'Soler Power' is fresh off a second World Series title, and the World Series MVP honors. That said, he is an impending free agent that many teams should covet. That list of teams should include the Chicago Cubs.
Jed Hoyer and company have a lot of work to do this offseason. Whether they take the long-term contracts approach or more of the short-term deal method, Soler may be a candidate for both options at a reasonable price tag. At the bare minimum, the Cubs need to check in with their former outfielder about a possible reunion in 2022.