As we transition into offseason mode here, we’re reviewing each significant player on the Nationals roster. We continue today with Sammy Solís, who labored through an erratic season.
PLAYER REVIEW: SAMMY SOLIS
Age on opening day 2018: 29
How acquired: Second round pick, 2010 draft
MLB service time: 2 years, 84 days
2017 salary: $545,700
Contract status: Under team control in 2018, arbitration-eligible in 2019, free agent in 2022
2017 stats: 1-0, 5.88 ERA, 30 G, 1 SV, 26 IP, 22 H, 17 R, 17 ER, 4 HR, 13 BB, 28 SO, 0 HBP, 1.346 WHIP, 0.0 WAR
Quotable: “I was down a long time. It took some time to come back, and I wasn’t comfortable out there. Right now, there’s not much to say, really. Guys are seeing it. That’s part of baseball, and part of coming off an injury is fine-tuning everything and find a way to miss some bats. Right now, I’m not.” - Solís on July 8, when his ERA stood at 14.73
2017 analysis: After a breakthrough 2016 season, Solís was expected to be a big part of the Nationals bullpen right from the get-go in 2017. But he struggled early, then landed on the 10-day disabled list in mid-April with what initially appeared to be minor elbow inflammation. It took 2 1/2 months for him to return from what eventually was diagnosed as a nerve problem.
Solís rejoined a Nationals bullpen that desperately needed a boost on July 1 but only made matters worse. He surrendered eight runs in his first three innings off the DL and with his ERA approaching 15.00, he wound up getting demoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
Solís returned a couple of weeks later, and though he remained erratic in August, he finally found his groove in September. He didn’t allow a run over his final 11 appearances, surrendering only three hits in 9 2/3 innings. That earned him a spot in the Nationals’ postseason bullpen. He made three appearances in the National League Division Series, recorded two outs in the Game 2 win, was charged with a blown save in the Game 3 loss and surrendering a seventh-inning run in the fateful Game 5 loss.
2018 outlook: Though he’s been around for a while, Solís still hasn’t accrued enough service time to become arbitration-eligible. So he’ll return in 2018, still earning close to the league minimum.
The Nationals have to decide, though, whether Solís is going to be assured of a prominent spot in their bullpen or whether he has fallen down the depth chart. When healthy and in a groove, he has proven to be an effective reliever, capable of retiring batters from both sides of the plate.
Trouble is, Solís rarely has proven he can stay healthy and effective. His arm has gone through plenty over the years, and at 29 he’s no spring chicken. The Nationals may have no choice but to make a concerted effort to bolster their stable of left-handed relievers this winter, not willing to just assume Solís will be part of the solution.