Jorge Soler is wasting a great opportunity

Apr 10, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

With Kyle Schwarber out for the season, Jorge Soler is the starting left fielder for the Chicago Cubs. With his inability to hit, however, he is wasting his golden opportunity.

When the Chicago Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler was a player without a position. Before the signing, Jason Heyward, who signed a mega free agent contract, was penciled in at center field, and Soler would be in right field.

With Fowler back in the fold, Heyward moved over to his natural right field slot, with Fowler playing center again.

The Cubs had Kyle Schwarber in left, so that had Soler on the bench looking for playing time.

Then, in the third game of the season, Schwarber shredded his knee and was declared out for the season. That opened up left field for Soler.

Manager Joe Maddon had confidence in Soler to be able to make the transition from right to left field.

Now, with this golden opportunity to play on the best team in baseball with a 24-6 record, Soler is wasting that opportunity.

After Sunday’s game, Soler is now hitting .180/.274/.278 for the season. In a game in which the Chicago Cubs were handcuffed with few options on the bench and going into extra innings, Soler was taken out.

In fact, since the beginning of the month, Soler has been out of the starting lineup three times.

Maddon has tried to keep things positive when it comes to Soler.

“He’s going to play a lot this year, not a little,” Maddon stated. “He’s a big part of our future, no question. But of course he’s not been swinging the bat like he can…“I’m telling you, soon he’s going to be very much involved because this guy is a big part of our future,”

The way Maddon talks about how good Soler will be for the Chicago Cubs reminds me very much of what he did with Starlin Castro last season. Castro was struggling all season long, but Maddon still had his back.

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Eventually, though, Maddon had to give up and take Castro out of shortstop. Eventually, it did work, but it was because Castro manned up and looked into the mirror and changed his approach.

The time may come for Soler as well.

The Cubs have Javier Baez, who is starting to break through. He had the walk-off home run in Sunday’s game, and is hitting .306/.354/.522 for the season.

Baez has played the super-utility role, coming into games late and playing all over the infield. Maddon is saying things could change, though.

"He’s just accelerated maturity wise, his outlook on the day is really staggeringly different than it was last year. He’s really grown up quickly. He gets his role on a daily basis. He’s probably going to settle into one spot in the infield. Probably. His defense is really different, in a good way… You might want him to nail down a spot I think. In the middle of the field somewhere, because he can contribute more there normally."

Eventually, Baez could wind up at second base and make a great double play combination with Addison Russell, but he could earn himself a starting spot at third base this season. Kris Bryant is playing well at left now, and if Baez continues to improve his offense, he would be too valuable not to be in the starting lineup.

This could all be a moot point if Jorge Soler can put it together and start to hit. The Cubs are in a position to do something special, and they need players who are up to that challenge.

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If Soler is not up to it, the Cubs can opt to put Bryant out in left field, or they can opt to make a trade. Either way, they are doing something special so far. They need to finish the job.