Soler, competing for starting spot, released by Mets

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The New York Mets released
right-hander Alay Soler before their exhibition game Tuesday
against the Cleveland Indians.

Soler defected from Cuba in November 2003 and signed a
three-year contract for $2.8 million with the Mets in August 2004. He had a one-year contract for 2007 that would have paid him
$826,675 in the majors and $620,000 in the minors and will receive
30 days termination pay: $101,639.

The 27-year-old was an ace for the Cuban national team, going
10-4 with a 2.01 ERA in 18 games in 2003. While in Cuba, he was a
teammate of Chicago White Sox right-hander Jose Contreras.

Soler received a standing ovation at Shea Stadium after pitching
six innings in his big league debut against the Philadelphia
Phillies last May 24, allowing two runs and five hits.

He earned his first win June 5 in Los Angeles against the
Dodgers, then pitched a two-hit shutout at Arizona against the
Diamondbacks on June 10.

Soler was hit hard in subsequent starts and finished 2-3 with a
6.00 ERA before being sent back to the minors in July.

Soler came to camp in competition for the fifth spot in the
Mets' starting rotation this spring, but was unimpressive. He
yielded two runs in a 9-6 loss to the Washington Nationals on
Monday, raising his ERA to 8.22.