Geovany Soto: Extension Candidate

Geovany Soto is having a fantastic offensive season and, as Joe Mauer, Kurt Suzuki, Chris Iannetta and many others will tell you, catchers who can hit are sometimes offered extensions once they qualify for arbitration. Soto will head to arbitration for the first time this winter and barring a September slide, he'll be coming off a big season.

The 27-year-old ranks among the top five catchers in baseball when it comes to batting average, on base percentage and home runs. He has hit well before, but even when he won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2008 his batting line wasn't as high as it is now (.284/.399/.521).

The Cubs may prefer to go one year at a time with Soto, but they could opt for cost certainty and lock their catcher up. As the table below shows, both Soto's rate stats and his cumulative stats fall between the numbers Brian McCann and Chris Iannetta had going into their first arbitration season.

Both McCann and Iannetta signed extensions covering their arbitration years, so they are reasonable comparables for Soto. McCann ($15.5MM) earns more than Iannetta ($7.85MM) for his three seasons of arbitration eligibility and it seems likely that Soto will earn somewhere in between if the Cubs lock him up. McCann signed his deal early in his career, when he had less leverage, so it seems likely that Soto could command nearly as much for his three arbitration seasons as McCann got for his, especially given Soto's massive 2010 numbers. Perhaps the Cubs could buy Soto's 2011-13 seasons for $14MM or so.

24 Responses to Geovany Soto: Extension Candidate Leave a Reply

  1. I dunno, if I were Hendry I’d want to see Soto put together consecutive years like this one. He was BRUTAL in ’09.

    Then again, if I were Hendry I probably wouldn’t have the time to think this one over, what with all the Satan worshiping for allowing me to keep the current job I have…

    • He wasn’t BRUTAL in ’09. He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t brutal either. .702 OPS isn’t what you hope for out of your players but for a catcher who’s descent defensively it’s not terrible either. Look around the league, how many other starting catchers are better year in and year out than Soto was even in his down year of ’09? Some but not many. The Cubs backup catcher, Koyie Hill, has a career .578 OPS. Brad Ausmus started for years and he couldn’t hit to save his life. You’re talking about McCann, VMart, Posada and perhaps a handful of others who are in Soto’s league offensively. If you’re going to count one relatively poor year against him shouldn’t you count two very good years for him? At this point it’s obvious that the good years are his normal level of play.

      • Guess I should have added Mauer to that short list of catchers but he’s really not a comparable, he’s in a league of his own. Soto compares more favorably to VMart and McCann anyway, no one really compares favorably to Mauer, especially if his power were more consistent.

  2. so they are saying 3 years for a total 14 mil, right? that sounds about right as long as he can keep up his offseason workouts and stay healthy.

    • Agreed though I would think that keeping up the workouts and staying healthy relate to all players in general and catchers in particular, not just Soto. He’s had some health issues but most seem to have come from being on the field, not from a body that’s falling apart.

  3. jrodhard 5 years ago

    I would be inclined to go year to year with Soto right now. He has played well this year but he has had a couple of little injuries and he has yet to show consistent production every year. I’d sign him for 2011 and then if he repeats a fine season in 11 sign him for 3 years and buy out a free agent year. Even if it costs a little more in the long term, it is better to have some flexibility considering how many bad contracts they already have.

    • Going to arb the first year isn’t a bad idea if the Cubs aren’t sure of Soto just yet though I would suggest that if they aren’t sure about him at this point then something else is going on. Performance wise he’s one of the better catchers in the league and he’s not the first player to have an off year. As stated above, even his off year wasn’t terrible by catcher standards. If he’s got attitude or clubhouse problems that’s one thing, which there haven’t really been any suggestion of other than his pot trouble last year, but as far as his on field performance he deserves to be extended.

  4. clark182 5 years ago

    I would look to trade him while his value is high. He’ll be 28 next year and catchers can break down fast.

    • They could get a serious haul from the Red Sox, assuming they don’t resign V-Mart.

      • baseball52 5 years ago

        Make them take Soriano. Win for the Cubs! haha

        • Lol, addition by subtraction? Makes some sense. Still, the only real problem with Soriano is his contract, not his performance. He’s got holes in his game but if he were paid as such no one would really have a problem. Imagine him making $8 million a year, would anyone complain about him and his .831 OPS then? He’s not a bad player, just a bad contract.

          • Exactly. That would be the win. If anyone ever claimed him on waivers, I think any sane front office would dump that contract in a heartbeat.

      • clark182 5 years ago

        I agree. The Rangers and Rays also come to mind. I like Soto and if he was 25, I’d have a different thought. Catchers age quickly and I have a feeling by the time the Cubs are competitive he’ll be on the downslope of his career. Sadly the conversation is pointless as Hendry sells low, not high.

        • True, Hendry tends to telegraph his moves in advance and ends up getting what he can rather than getting the best return. It seems like whenever he trades someone now it’s always for middle relievers or young, B-type arms. He used to make some shrewd trades but once the checkbook opened he’s got away from that.

    • Considering that the Cubs could use the offense just as bad as almost anyone else and don’t have a bona fide replacement I would think they should keep Soto around. If he’s worth a lot to other teams he’s also worth a lot to the Cubs. Hill isn’t starter material and Castillo may look good but it’s no sure thing he’s MLB starter material either. I would be inclined to hold on to Soto if I were running the Cubs.

      • clark182 5 years ago

        I agree about him being worth a lot. But he may be worth a lot more to a team that views him as the missing piece to a championship run. The Cubs have too many holes to fill. #1SP, 1B, leadoff hitter(although not a position, they need to find someone). If the Cubs valued Soto as a hitter, then why are 80+% of his ABs in the 7-8 spot this year? Again, I’m not saying the Cubs must trade him, but with so many holes to fill, I’d dangle him and see what kind of offers are out there. What do you think the Cubs could get for him? I’ve don’t have any idea. 2 A-type arms? The Red Sox seem to be down on Ellsbury. What about Ellsbury for Soto?

      • studio179 5 years ago

        If the Cubs looked like they were close, I would agree keeping Soto. I am not sold on Castillo yet and Hill is a back up. If they keep Soto, I would assume Castillo figures to be the back up, since he would be cheaper than Hill. But the way this team looks for the next two years, it might be best to see what Hendry could get for Soto. I would include Marmol and Byrd as potential trades as well.

  5. jeffmcduffie 5 years ago

    If Soto does get an extension, I hope he performs better than Suzuki and Iannetta have after receiving their extensions. Suzuki has completely fallen off the last couple months…

    • HerbertAnchovy 5 years ago

      Kurt Suzuki is still an excellent defensive catcher. I think the toll of catching late in the season has caught up with him.

  6. TytheSportsGuy 5 years ago

    “Geovany Soto is having a fantastic offensive season” -Ben Nicholson-Smith

    LOL your Cubs bias is showing. When did .284 become fantastic?

    I mean for a catcher that is good, but fantastic?

    Reserve fantastic for the likes of Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, and Brian MCcann when it comes to fantastic hitting catchers.

    • dudinator 5 years ago

      yes, that .10 extra BA really pushes vmart past soto despite a lower slugging % and OBP

      sotos wOBA is .395: .15 higher than mccann .20 above mauer and nearly .50 above vmart

      • Zack23 5 years ago

        Come on man, you know it’s all about the average! That high OBP just “clogs the bases” lol

    • swick 5 years ago

      He’s leads all Major League catchers (min. 350 plate appearances) in OPS, by a decent margin. He’s had a fantastic offensive season.

  7. zacharydmanprin 5 years ago

    Since when is Kurt Suzuki able to hit? He’s never had an OPS+ over 100 and for his career he is at 93.

    He allows basestealers at an 80% rate.

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