This Cincinnati Reds have acquired Nick Solak from the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. With teams looking to clear spots on the 40-man roster it seems likely that the Rangers were going to put him on waivers or non-tender him if they couldn’t find someone to take him. The Reds seemed to be willing to give up something so the two sides worked out a deal. Cincinnati’s 40-man roster is now full…. at least for now. They will be making plenty of moves and changes in the next week and a half.
Nick Solak missed most of the 2022 season with a broken foot. In the 35 games he played before the injury he hit .207/.309/.329. That’s in line with what he has done in the other parts of three big league seasons. For his career he has hit .252/.327/.372 – but over the last three seasons he’s hit just .246/.317/.354.
In the minor leagues he has hit quite a bit better. The 2016 2nd round pick of the New York Yankees, Solak played in 57 games at Triple-A Round Rock this past season and put up a .278/.371/.489 line. For his career in the minors he’s hit .295/.382/.470.
With that said, Solak will be 28-years-old when the 2023 season begins. He’s not exactly a spring chicken anymore and what may have once been viewed as his upside and potential is more dimly lit now that he’s in his late 20’s.
We talked about his bat some, but let’s talk about the other things he brings to the table. According to the Statcast numbers he’s been among the faster runners in the game since he made his debut in 2019. He’s not among the elite of the elite, but his sprint speed has been in the 85th percentile or better each season. Defensively he’s had experience in the big leagues at first base, second base, third base, center, and left. In the minors he’s also played a little bit of right field.
From a roster building standpoint you can see where he could fill a utility player role with a potential to fill in all over the place on a given day. When it comes to his bat, there are some things worth looking at that could be positive. As a right-handed hitter he’s hit much better against lefties, posting a .283/.363/.428 line in 336 plate appearances in the majors. He probably shouldn’t get much time against right-handed pitchers, though, with a .652 OPS against them in 638 plate appearances in his career.
Solak can hit the ball hard according to Statcast. That’s not a bad thing. But what is a bad thing is that he hits the ball on the ground a ton. For his career he’s been a 53% ground ball rate hitter. If a pitcher had that for a ground ball rate we’d be talking about how many grounders they get and they’d be pushing their way towards the top of the ground ball leaderboard. It’s tough to hit for power when you put the ball on the ground. Maybe Cincinnati can get him to put the ball in the air a little more often and it’ll help him pick up some slugging.