NEW YORK – Does Jorge Soler become the next man up with the Cubs sending Junior Lake down to Triple-A Iowa?
The Cubs hadn’t completely ruled out the idea late Friday night, though a team source predicted it will be a much less exciting move than dropping the Cuban outfielder into The Big Apple this weekend.
Still, the Soler speculation started as soon as manager Rick Renteria announced the Lake news after a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets. Technically, the Cubs will first activate right-hander Dan Straily to make a spot start on Saturday night at Citi Field.
But once Straily goes back to Des Moines, the Cubs will have an open roster spot that could be used for Soler, who’s put up a .952 OPS in his first 22 games at the Triple-A level. Those discussions are said to be ongoing, with no final decision made yet.
Soler is showing the combination of power (five homers, 18 RBI) and plate discipline (12 walks) that once pushed the Cubs into a bidding war and compelled them to make a $30 million investment.
Soler – who’s already on the 40-man roster with a major-league contract – projected to be a September call-up. It would be another coming-attractions moment, Soler hitting in a lineup featuring Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro.
The Cubs hoped Lake would take another leap forward this season, but the 24-year-old outfielder struggled to make adjustments and earn playing time. All of his nine homers and 25 RBI came before the All-Star break, and he’s hitting .216 with 102 strikeouts in 305 plate appearances this season.
“We’ll see Junior soon,” Renteria said. “Right now, he’s a little disappointed, but I think he’ll catch a breath of fresh air down there, play, get some at-bats, have some fun again.”
Renteria indicated the plan is for Lake to be back in the big leagues in three weeks.
“I need to play,” Lake said. “Everybody wants to play here, but I need (to) play every day. That’s not a bad idea.”