As one of their premium offseason acquisitions, the Marlins signed Jorge Soler to a three-year, $36 million deal with two opt-outs. Soler has been inconsistent throughout his career, but the Marlins are hopeful he can continue being the guy who earned World Series MVP honors in helping the Braves win the 2021 Fall Classic.
When healthy and focused, Soler can be a powerful force. He led the league in home runs back in 2019 with 48 long balls—while also setting a season record for Cuban players—and he had a spectacular stint for Atlanta last year. Following his move from Kansas City, Soler hit .269/.358/.524 with 14 four-baggers and 33 runs batted in across 55 regular-season games and 242 plate appearances.
One good thing about the 30-year-old slugger is that he left his injury proneness behind, it seems. Over the last three campaigns, Soler’s appeared in 354 of a possible 384 games, more than during his first five years in the Major Leagues between the Cubs and the Royals (307).
Historically, Soler has made 344 of his career starts in right field, 54 in left field and 214 as a designated hitter.
What 2022 could look like for Soler
Thanks to the new rule adding the DH to the National League for 2022 and beyond, Soler is a great fit for the Marlins. His contract guarantees him an average annual value of $12 million, so even in the worst-case scenario that he struggles to stick in the everyday lineup, the club would have plenty of financial flexibility to construct the rest of the roster.
The risk is very real. Soler was ineffective for K.C. a year ago (.192/.288/.370, 13 HR, 26.9 K% in 360 PA). Also, he has reached a point on the aging curve where it is dangerous to count on him maintaining his athleticism.
On the other hand—as we said when he initially signed—Statcast believes Soler was unlucky on long fly balls. He totaled 30 home runs during the regular season and postseason combined compared to 38 expected home runs (only Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon had a larger discrepancy when it comes to underperforming in that department). One can assume that he will have the incentive of playing in Miami, in front of the lively Cuban audience that will support him at LoanDepot Park.
You can expect Soler to be used frequently at DH this season. On days when Jesús Aguilar or Garrett Cooper occupy that spot, manager Don Mattingly will try him in left field.
If Soler stays durable, he could make a massive difference for a lineup that finished 28th out of 30 MLB teams in home runs (158) and 29th in runs batted in last year (594). Along with Avisaíl García, Aguilar, and full years of Jesús Sánchez, Brian Anderson and Cooper, the Marlins are in a position to have a better, more productive offense this year.
Time will tell whether signing Soler was a wise decision, but it should be pretty fun to find out.