Should Chicago Cubs send Jorge Soler back to the minors?


As Jorge Soler continues to struggle, is it time for the Chicago Cubs to send him to the minor leagues?

At 25-8, the Chicago Cubs have the best record in all of MLB. They are scoring a lot of runs, the pitching staff led by Jake Arrieta is top-notch and the wins are just pouring in. This is a fantastic team filled with depth and talent, but not everybody is performing.

Many will point to Jason Heyward‘s early season slump as reason for concern, but Heyward is a historically slow-starter. He will start heating up soon, and in the meantime his elite defense in right field makes him a valuable player. However, when it comes to left fielder Jorge Soler, I am not as optimistic about a turnaround.

In contrast to Heyward, Soler is a terrible defender whose value to the Cubs is completely reliant on his bat. When Soler is not hitting, his presence in the lineup is a huge negative. After a 1-8 performance in the Cubs’ back-to-back losses to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, Soler is now hitting an ugly .175/.261/.275 on the season.

After his 0-4, four strikeout performance in the nightcap, which included a situation where he struck out with the bases loaded and two outs as the Cubs trailed 1-0, it is getting hard to argue for keeping Soler in the lineup.

With Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella tearing the cover off of the ball (and in the case of Baez, playing elite level defense), trotting Kris Bryant out to left field to fill in for Soler on a daily basis has to be an appealing option for manager Joe Maddon. While Baez at third base and Bryant in LF has become somewhat of the regular lineup for the Cubs, they keep sending Soler out there, and he keeps under-performing.

Soler has massive upside as a major league hitter, and we saw that potential last year in the post-season (.474/.600/1.105 including three home runs in seven games). If he can work through the kinks and actually reach his potential on a full-time basis, Soler is going to be an absolute star for the Cubs. That being said, right now he is completely lost at the plate and it is hurting his team’s chances.

The Cubs are legitimate World Series contenders this season, if not the favorites. So they are not a position where it makes sense to allow a guy to develop on the fly. If there were no better options available, I could understand the decision to keep Soler in the lineup, but what is more important here: winning games or developing the talent?

I understand the Cubs want to give Soler proper time to develop, but he is hurting this team. So, if he is not going to be in the everyday lineup, what should the Cubs do with Soler? Give him these spot starts where he continues to look foolish, or send him down to Triple-A so he can get consistent at-bats?

I do not think sending him down to Triple-A will do much to help Soler’s progression. The difference in the quality of pitching in MLB and Triple-A is massive. Given hitting major league pitching is Soler’s biggest issue, sending him down to feast on minor league pitchers would not help him develop much. That being said, he would at least be able to get some consistent swings in and would not be hurting the major league club.

If the Cubs send down Soler, I would fully expect him to go down to Triple-A Iowa and rake. The guy is too talented not to feast on that level of pitching. It may not help him grow as a player, but it could help him get his confidence back up. Baseball is an extremely mental game, and sometimes that is all it takes.

The reality is that there is not really a great answer here. If the Cubs send Soler back to the minor leagues and he rakes, it is not like he is really getting any better as a player. That being said, he is obviously not getting better right now and he is hurting the team.

It may not be the ideal situation, but I think it is time. The Cubs should send Soler back to the minor leagues. Make him go down and prove he is worthy of being on this loaded major league roster. If he does, then great, bring him back up. But in the meantime, Maddon will not have to face the awkward decision everyday of playing a guy who clearly does not belong in this lineup right now.