Jorge Soler is spending the winter working out and preparing for next season while he’s being mentioned in countless trade rumors over the last two-plus months.
Jorge Soler did not perform to expectations last year at the plate or in the field. But he still finished the regular season with a .262/.324/.399 line with 18 doubles, a triple and 10 home runs for a .723 OPS. Soler had a couple of stints on the disabled list and still played in a career-high 101 games.
Theo Epstein said Soler was not happy about his lack of playing time when he returned from the disabled list in mid-September. Soler showed what he is capable of offensively and defensively in the post-season.
In the playoffs, Soler was 9-for-19 in seven games with three doubles and three home runs (.474/.600/1.105) for a 1.705 OPS. Soler reached base in nine straight plate appearances, walked six times with five strikeouts and if not for Kyle Schwarber, he would have garnered a lot more attention.
Soler made a game-changing throw to the plate in Game 4 of the NLDS and nailed Tony Cruz to end the inning. Soler’s throw kept the game tied at four and Anthony Rizzo hit what would be the game-winning home run the next half inning. Soler took better routes in the playoffs than he had during the regular season but also struggled in right field.
Epstein spoke in length about Jorge Soler before the holidays and shared his thoughts about the Cubs outfielder.
“I love this guy’s future. I think his bat could be as good as just about anyone’s in the game, and from a power standpoint especially,” Epstein said about Soler last month. “As soon as he learns to loft the ball just a little bit more, which I think he will, it’s something he’s working on.”
“Then defensively we have challenged him to get a little bit leaner, a little bit more athletic, to work on his jumps in right field and that’s what he’s working on.”
“Actually just saw some video of him yesterday and he looks great,” Epstein said. “He’s down to about 225 [pounds] and really working hard on his quickness and his defense and his flexibility and athleticism. He looks fantastic.”
“This guy wants to play. He didn’t like it when he came back from that injury, the oblique, and wasn’t playing every day. He worked his way back into the lineup. He took Adam Wainwright deep, took Jake deGrom [Jacob deGrom] deep, kind of effortless with the ability that he has to hit the ball deep into the stands. That’s hard to teach. We will put our stock in his future certainly baring something completely unforeseen.”
Kahrl said the Cubs realize what they have in Soler and “should reap the benefits of that commitment in the next five seasons.”
ZiPS Projections is calling for a .261/.327/.455 line with 21 doubles, 14 home runs and a .782 OPS for Soler next season. And the Steamer Projection system sees similar numbers for Soler in 2016 (.260/.324/.440/.764, 26 doubles, 18 home runs).
Along with Jorge Soler, Christina Kahrl feels Miguel Sano (Twins), Freddie Freeman (Braves), Wil Myers (Padres), Maikel Franco (Phillies), Joe Panik (Giants), Randal Grichuk (Cardinals), Domingo Santana (Brewers), Jarrod Dyson (Royals) and Byung Ho Park (Twins) are primed for breakout seasons in 2016.
Jorge Soler turns 24 in February. Soler has the ability and talent to be an elite, impact player in the big leagues. And that is the reason teams are asking for him in talks with the Cubs for pitching this winter.