Nick Solak was acquired by the Texas Rangers from the Tampa Bay Rays 29 days ago, coming over in a deal that sent out-of-nowhere relief pitcher Peter Fairbanks to Tampa. It was a prospect-for-prospect deal where each team dealt from an area of surplus (Texas has lots of hard-throwing righty relief prospects, Tampa a lot of infielders), the type of deal folks spitball about all the time but that rarely seem to actually occur.
The book on Solak when he was acquired was that he was an 80-grade makeup guy who could hit and who had no defensive position. He’s played some second base and some left field, but isn’t viewed as particularly capable at either, though the consensus has been the bat is legit.
We aren’t in a position to say much about Solak’s makeup or glove since coming over, but we can look at his hitting line for Nashville, and so far, the bat has played. He is slashing .318/.352/.647 in 92 plate appearances for the Sounds since the trade, which is impressive regardless of position. His K rate has dropped slightly from when he was with Tampa, his walk rate has plummeted (he has just 4 walks post-trade), but he’s hitting a ton of home runs — 8 so far with Nashville.
Now, the caveat is that, as we have discussed, the PCL is a very hitter-friendly league. The flip side is that Nashville is one of the most pitcher-friendly stadia in the PCL, and at home (as well as one game in New Orleans because it’s in the middle of the stretch of home games and the game log tool at B-R won’t let me drop that) has Solak at .333/.375/.725. He’s actually not hit that great on the road since coming to Nashville, and his road games haven’t been at the parks where the ball flies out crazily.
Solak is Rule 5 eligible this offseason, and thus will have to be added to the 40 man roster this offseason, and so he could get a look in September. However, given the fact there are so many position players to get PAs to, I think it’s likely he isn’t called up.
The real question will be what the Rangers do with Solak in 2020. He’s played some left field of late after mostly playing second base since Texas acquired him. He could be an option at second if the Rangers decide to sit Rougned Odor next year. It seems more likely, though, that he’s looked at as a Willie Calhoun-type LF/DH guy. Solak and Calhoun could conceivably share LF/DH duties at some point, or Solak could be part of a platoon at one of those positions. There’s no definitive place you can pencil him in right now, but it seems likely he will get a shot at a major league job sometime next year.