When the Miami Marlins signed the 2021 World Series MVP, Jorge Soler, to a 3-year $36 million dollar deal with opt-outs after years one and two, they expected him to replicate a lot of what he did in that second half of 2021 with the Braves. It is fair to say that wasn’t the case this season.
July 1st: Jorge Soler placed on the 10-day injured list due to bilateral pelvis inflammation.
July 12th: Jorge Soler sent to AA-Pensacola on rehab assignment
July 15th: Jorge Soler activated from the IL
July 23rd: Jorge Soler placed on the 10-day injured list due to lower back spasms.
September 15th: Jorge Soler transferred to the 60-day injured list due to lower back spasms.
Soler entered 2022 as the starting left fielder with plans to be used as the team’s DH from time to time. He was the first Cuban player on the Marlins roster since pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne. With his power-hitting history and Cuban heritage, the expectation was that he’d play a role in filling up LoanDepot Park a little bit more than in years past.
Soler struggled in the month of April as he slashed .171/.284/.303/.587. May is where he had his best month of the season and resembled the 2021 Jorge Soler (.253/.330/.609/.939, 9 HR, 19 RBI).
But he couldn’t keep it up, and back issues were a big reason why. Soler said this was the first time in his career dealing with that kind of injury. As I have learned from a source as well as Soler himself, his back was bothering him throughout the 2022 season, sidelining him entirely for Miami’s final 69 games.
The overall production that the Marlins got from Soler was much closer to the Kansas City Royals version than the Atlanta Braves version, unfortunately. He was mostly a one-dimensional player, hitting homers with extremely high exit velos and not much else. Throughout the first half of the year, Soler led the Marlins in both walks and strikeouts.
2021 full season stats: .223 BA, .316 OBP, .432 SLG, .749 OPS, 27 HR, 70 RBI
2022 full season stats: .207 BA, .295 OBP, .400 SLG, .695 OPS, 13 HR, 34 RBI
For a Marlins lineup that struggled against lefty pitchers far worse than any other MLB team, Soler was a huge positive.
2022 stats vs. LHP: .203 BA, .294 OBP, .525 SLG, .819 OPS, 6 HR, 13 RBI
Not all home runs are equally important. I noticed that Soler typically hit his during garbage time, when the Marlins were either leading or trailing by so much that it had no impact on the outcome of the game. When the Marlins really needed him to produce in big spots, he came up short. Among Marlins hitters, only Jacob Stallings had a lower win probability added than Soler this season.
Soler did not come to the Marlins with a reputation for playing good defense, but in my eyes, he showed improvement early in the season when he was at his healthiest. Stats like outs above average (-7 OAA in 2021 vs. -2 OAA in 2022) and defensive runs saved (-11 DRS in 2021 vs. -1 DRS in 2022) agree with the eye test.
Soler is set to make $15 million for the 2023 season unless he opts out of his contract. He told the media earlier this month that he hasn’t decided what to do yet, but all signs point to him staying. Soler is comfortable in Miami and he will not be able to make that much guaranteed money in free agency coming off a disappointing season. A trade is unlikely as well—the Marlins won’t get anything in return for Soler until he shows that he is 100% recovered from his back issues.
To protect his health, Soler will be used a lot more as the DH for the Marlins moving forward. It will be interesting to see how that impacts Garrett Cooper and the kinds of bats that the front office goes after this offseason.