Royals outfielder Jorge Soler suffered a setback in his rehab from a foot injury, and the team will shut him down for an undisclosed period of time, manager Ned Yost told Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com and other reporters on Sunday. With only a few weeks left on the schedule, it’s possible Soler’s season is over, Flanagan notes.
Soler last played in the majors on June 15, when he incurred a left foot fracture, though the Royals’ hope was that he’d return in August. Instead, the 26-year-old’s big league campaign may conclude with 257 plate appearances and a terrific .265/.354/.466 batting line. Soler also chipped in nine home runs and a .202 ISO while cutting his strikeout rate to 26.8 percent (compared to 32.7 in 2017). Statcast data suggests Soler’s success this season hasn’t been a fluke, as there’s little difference between his expected weighted on-base average (.359) and his real wOBA (.355).
In terms of bottom-line results, this has been a rough year for the rebuilding Royals, who own the majors’ second-worst record (44-91). Soler’s production counts as a rare bright spot, especially after he endured a difficult first year with the organization in 2017. Soler – whom the Royals acquired from the Cubs for closer Wade Davis in December 2016 – spent the majority of last year in the minors, playing just 35 games in Kansas City. But Soler worked diligently over the winter to improve, as Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star detailed in February, and that effort did yield positive results prior to his injury.
With his season potentially over, Soler will have to make a key financial decision during the winter. While the Cuba native is still on the nine-year, $30MM deal he signed in 2012 with the Cubs, he’ll have a chance to opt into arbitration in the offseason. Soler’s currently slated to make $4MM in 2019, and thanks to his injury, he may be better served taking that guaranteed sum than testing arbitration.