Jorge Soler – The twenty two year old will be manning right field for the 2015 season after getting a September call-up last season. In 24 games, Soler managed to put up a slash line of .292/.330/.573 good enough for a .903 OPS. His wOBA was at .386 above the league average and proved through his small sample size that he can handle the major league level. After signing a 9 year thirty million dollar contract in June of 2012 I had my doubts of giving that much money to someone that just turned 20 years old. However, over the course of the past two year Soler has put together two solid seasons in the minors totaling 151 games over two plus seasons. The big question is can he stay healthy and continue to provide at a high level. When, Soler is healthy he is force to reckon with as he had video game like numbers with a slash line of.307/.383/.551 for an OPS of .935. According to Fangraphs: Steamer Projections are that he will play in 130 games obtaining 560 at bats with a slash-line of .262/.322/.463 for an OPS of .785. In my personal opinion I actually agree with these numbers as I still have questions about his health and adjusting the league after playing a full season at the major league level. As I move through the post you’ll see the importance of depth the Cubs are building at multiple positions.
Arismendy Alcantara – Alcantara like Soler was called up the big leagues last season and he was the first to be called up on July 9th. Alcantara had some early success as he posted a .253 batting average through his first 75 plate appearances while registering a slash-line of .253/.337/.427/ for OPS of .764. Although, as the season wore on pitchers began adjusting to Alcantara as his batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage had significant drops. A troubling stat in September was that his strikeouts grew to 36 while only walking twice. His power numbers we’re a high point as he had 10 home-runs in limited plate appearances. Alcantara came up as an infielder playing with Baez at Iowa at second-base but as time has went on it’s become a position of strength for the Cubs. He committed five errors in centerfield last year but with working in spring training solely on developing his fielding in center and developing his instincts I don’t see him as a liability in centerfield. Alcantara and Soler both are twenty two years old and will cost 2,000,000 and 500,000 respectively which is 1/7 of Alfonso Soriano’s old contract.
Chris Coghlan – After winning the Rookie of the Year in 2009, Coghlan struggled the past four seasons with his first home the Florida now Miami Marlins. He spent some time in the minors but predominantly played in the majors playing in 125 games registering 42 extra base hits and a slash-line of .283/.352/.452 for an OPS of .804. The question is was his 2014 season a fluke well if we dive into the numbers we see he had a .337 BABIP which is line with his career numbers. His Weighted Runs Above Average via Fangraphs is 14.2 which is calculated by wRAA = ((wOBA – league wOBA) / wOBA scale) × PA. I bring this statistic up because in his 2009 season he had an elevated wRAA at 21.2 while all of his other seasons (minors included) he has been negative in that category. It’s worth keeping an eye on as with both of the mentioned players to see if they can adjust to the scouting
Chris Denorfia – I conclude with the latest free agency signing Denorfia as he is 34 years old and is the veteran on this predominantly young roster. Denorfia has played for five teams in his career spanning both leagues and has played mostly in corner outfield positions for his career totaling over 76% of the 4,255 innings he has played. His best season was in 2012 with the San Diego Padres totaling a .796 OPS in 348 at bats. He also had thirty three extra base hits, thirteen stolen bases and .5 BB/K ratio. I don’t see a lot of power coming from Denorfia but I do see some extra base hit potential and a guy who knows how to get on base. If you don’t include 2014 Denorfia from 2010-2013 had an OBP of .330 or higher while also having at least a .5 BB/K ratio.