Make Or Break Year: Geovany Soto

In the aftermath of Geovany Soto's big 2010 season, the catcher was being looked at as extension candidate, in line for a healthy multiyear contract.  The Cubs held off extending Soto and instead chose to go year-to-year in arbitration, which may have proven to be a wise decision.  Soto followed up his .280/.393/.497 performance in 2010 with a disappointing .228/.310/.411 slash line in 2011, and has thus far gotten off to a slow start this season, with just a .526 OPS entering tonight's play.  (Though, in fairness, Soto's .157 BABIP indicates he's been very unlucky.)

Uspw_6233158Soto earned $3MM in 2011 and $4.3MM this season during his first two arb-eligible years and is due for one more trip through the arb process before hitting free agency after the 2013 campaign.  We can tentatively predict Soto to earn around $5.5MM next year since even if he continues to hit poorly, I think the Cubs will still tender him a contract.  Soto's big 2010 season and his Rookie Of The Year campaign in 2008 are still too fresh in everyone's memory, and since solid-hitting catchers are such a commodity in the game, the Cubs will likely give Soto another chance to regain his past form.

"Likely," however, is not a certainty.  Soto is a middling-to-below average defender, so unless his bat heats up, he has little value.  Chicago has another catching prospect in 25-year-old Welington Castillo, who has posted an .852 OPS in 590 Triple-A plate appearances and is currently serving as the Cubs' backup with Steve Clevenger on the DL.  Jed Hoyer could go in a different direction next year, using Castillo and Clevenger (who also has some good minor league numbers) in a righty-lefty platoon, possibly with a veteran brought into the mix during Spring Training to add depth.

If the Cubs do give up on Soto, it's more likely that they would try to deal him at the trade deadline rather than non-tendering him for nothing in return.  The Rays are the most notable contender with a clear need at catcher, though a number of other teams could develop a hole behind the plate by the end of July.  If Soto can't get his bat going, expect him to be dealt for a low-level prospect to a team in need of a backup catcher.  If Soto does hit, however, he'll keep his job in Chicago for at least one more season, though the Cubs will still be right to hold off on an extension until they see what Soto does in 2013.

Photo courtesy of Howard Smith/US Presswire

14 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Geovany Soto Leave a Reply

  1. He did hit a HR today against the great Chad Durbin!

    Yes, I’m furious that Durbin actually has a job.

  2. phee17 3 years ago

    id like to see him traded for pitching and letting The Clever and Beef Wellington split catching duties

    • Tyler 3 years ago

      Welington* is nothing more than a Koyie Hill Prodigy. 

      • Lastings 3 years ago

        Wasn’t he considered to be a pretty decent prospect at one point?

        • Tyler 3 years ago

          They have him ranked #13 and compare him to Yadier Molina but he has yet to put both his offense and defense games together to be consistent enough to be in the MLB.

          Dont get me wrong, I would love to see him excel but how long will it take?

          • jb226 3 years ago

            To be fair, if he hit OR fielded he would be better than Koyie Hill was.

          •  He’s played three games this year and will be far superior to Hill. Sveum thinks he can be an all star

          • Tyler 3 years ago

            Thinking and becoming are two totally different things. 

        • johnsilver 3 years ago

           So was Jarrod Saltalamacchia and mark Teagarden. One is league average and the other bounces back between retread status at AAA and backup at MLB.

          Can’t picture Soto breaking any banks on the market, nor getting any multi year deal from the Cubs. Epstein is probably hoping he has one for decent season so he can unload him, rather than give him a raise over the 4.5m he’s already getting.. Just way to inconsistent thus far.

          Boston probably looking to move Salty after this year also, only difference is he is making about half (2.5m) for doing the same thing.

  3. Philip Marlowe 3 years ago

    If his BABIP picks up, I could see him getting traded at the deadline. He’s one of my favorite players, though, and I’d really like to see him be a part of the next contending Cubs team… I almost couldn’t say that last bit with a straight face.

  4. I am pretty sure the Rays wouldn’t deal for him, they are a leader in researching the values of pitch framing, and if they don’t like him on defense, they won’t try to get him.

    •  He was great at framing last year I believe.

    • Dynasty22 3 years ago

       I think they are looking for a catcher of the future. Someone like Yasmani Grandal.

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