Soler, 26, will finish the current season with over three years of MLB service, setting the stage for what could be a difficult decision. His original contract —signed after he left Cuba in 2012 — allows him to opt into arbitration upon reaching eligibility. (Though he finished 2017 with 2.143 years of MLB service, he wasn’t eligible as a Super Two because he lacked 86 days on the active roster in the immediately preceding season.)
Therefore, Soler’s new reps will have to help him determine whether to keep the existing deal, which promises $4MM annually through 2020, or instead to launch into the higher-upside, riskier waters of the arb process. If he keeps hitting as he has to this point in the 2018 season, going into arbitration might seem to be a pretty solid bet, though that’d mean giving up the guaranteed money for both of the two remaining seasons in hopes of commanding more in total.
Unless the contract specifies otherwise, it seems that Soler will be eligible for arbitration in the 2021 season regardless. But he could potentially earn more that year if he is seeking a raise from a loftier base rate than the $4MM that’s presently called for.
Whether the long-touted Soler is better off betting on continued production isn’t clear from the numbers. It has been a meandering path to this point. He exploded onto the MLB scene in 2014 before seeing his productivity dwindle in the next two seasons. After being dealt from the Cubs to the Royals, he struggled badly in 2017 and spent most of the year on optional assignment — though he did hit rather well at Triple-A.
Now, Soler is back to driving the ball like he did in his debut campaign. Over 177 plate appearances in 2018, he owns a .297/.401/.486 batting line with five long balls and a career-high 13.0% walk rate. Though his .379 batting average on balls in play is sure to fade, Soler has made plenty of hard contact as well.
You can find all current MLB agency affiliations in MLBTR’s Agency Database.