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SF Giants: Donovan Solano playing with a chip on his shoulder

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 01: Donovan Solano #7 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning on Opening Day at T-Mobile Park on April 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 01: Donovan Solano #7 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning on Opening Day at T-Mobile Park on April 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Donovan Solano
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – APRIL 01: Donovan Solano #7 of the SF Giants at bat against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning on Opening Day at T-Mobile Park on April 01, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

SF Giants infielder Donovan Solano is in the midst of a contract year and it is apparent that he is playing with a chip on his shoulder. Solano is off to a terrific start as he looks to continue his strong run with the team. The right-handed hitter lost his salary arbitration case against the team in February, so he very well could have some extra motivation.

Going to arbitration has been a rare occurrence for the Giants in recent years, but they chose not to bridge the salary gap with Solano. Solano’s party filed for a salary of $3.9 million in 2021, whereas the Giants countered with $3.25 million. After losing the case, Solano’s salary was set at $3.25 million.

SF Giants 2B Donovan Solano is playing with a chip on his shoulder.

This case was the first time the Giants had gone to arbitration with a player in over 10 years and they “won” the case, saving $650,000 in the process. I am a firm believer that teams never actually win in arbitration. They just save some money. The ill will that comes from it on the player’s side tends to linger as the player approaches free agency and a reunion seems unlikely, though not impossible.

Nevertheless, Solano is in a position to really score a nice contract in free agency. Since joining San Francisco, the 33-year-old has slashed .334/.366/.465 (125 OPS+) with seven home runs and 54 RBI in parts of three seasons. Quietly, Solano has simply been one of the best hitters in baseball.

This is not the type of player Solano has been throughout his eight-year career. When he was coming up with the Miami Marlins, he was more of a glove-first contributor, but that pendulum has shifted in favor of his bat in recent years.

San Francisco reeled him in on a minor-league pact and as he begins his age-33 season, Solano may have one chance to score in free agency. To his credit, he is doing everything he can to put his best foot forward.

When a player like Solano has a late-career renaissance, questions arise over whether it is sustainable. The veteran infielder continues to prove it at the plate and he has picked up where he left off last year. So far, Solano has seven hits, including two doubles, in 14 at-bats with two RBI.

Power has never been his strength, but the right-handed hitter continues to shoot line drives all over the field. Because of his ability to use the entire field, defenses have had a tough time shifting on him while baseballs continue to fall for hits.

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It is very early in the season, but Donovan Solano continues to do what he has done with the SF Giants. He has plenty of reasons to play with a chip on his shoulder this year and the 2020 Silver Slugger is making a good last impression before free agency.

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