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Marlins, Braves “intensifying talks” with free agent Jorge Soler

After reportedly negotiating with a wide variety of teams, the 2021 World Series MVP appears to be nearing a decision.

Jorge Soler #12 of the Atlanta Braves at bat against the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Hours after Marlins owner Bruce Sherman vowed to continue spending to strengthen the club’s 2022 roster, Mike Rodriguez of Univision reports that the Marlins will be making “a very lucrative offer” to free agent outfielder Jorge Soler. The Braves are doing the same.

On Saturday, Rodriguez reported eight teams with interest in Soler, and that wasn’t even counting Atlanta. It’s unclear whether Phillies, Twins, Brewers, Red Sox, Astros, Rangers or Dodgers remain in contention for him, or if these two NL East rivals are the only finalists at this stage of the bidding.

Soler is coming off a bizarre though ultimately successful age-29 season. Splitting time between right field and designated hitter for the Royals, he performed below replacement through the end of July (.192/.288/.370, 13 HR, 26.9 K% in 360 PA). But a trade to Atlanta rejuvenated him—he thrived near the top of their lineup over the next two months (.269/.358/.524, 14 HR, 18.6 K% in 242 PA). After contributing only two hits during the NLDS and NLCS combined, he had a crucial role in securing the World Series title for the Braves, winning WS MVP honors in the process.

Soler owns a career .246/.331/.465 slash line over parts of eight MLB seasons with mild platoon splits. He played for an $8.05 million salary in 2021.

The huge Cuban slugger already makes his offseason home in Miami. Miguel Rojas called him a “really good fit” for the Marlins in November when making a recruiting pitch to Soler on The Chris Rose Rotation.

However, Rojas said that before the Fish inked Avisaíl García to a four-year deal. Adding Soler now would mean banking on their outfield bats to overcome poor defense. Soler is limited to right field and struggles with his mobility and reaction time; Jesús Sánchez would be locked into left field, where he was admittedly uncomfortable last season; and relying on García to be the team’s primary center fielder is not ideal.

Jorge Soler’s 2021 Statcast percentile rankings
Jorge Soler’s 2021 Statcast percentile rankings
Baseball Savant

It’s hard to dispute that Soler would inch the Marlins closer to being a postseason threat. The question is whether they’d be better off with any of the alternatives, such as paying a premium for the consistency of another free agent outfielder (Nick Castellanos or Kyle Schwarber) or waiting for an opportunity to trade for a more athletic and well-rounded star.

Also on Monday, the Braves made a massive trade to acquire Matt Olson from the Athletics. This seemingly spells the end of Freddie Freeman’s tenure and reduces the price that they’ll be paying for first base production for the next few years. If they are sufficiently motivated to re-sign Soler, it’s difficult to imagine the Marlins outbidding them.

Stay tuned for updates...