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2023 Marlins Season Preview: Jorge Soler

Can the Cuban slugger truly bounce back after a tough 2022?

Jorge Soler #12 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with teammates in the dugout after coming around to score on a two run RBI double by Nick Fortes #54 in the sixth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 22, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

2022 Season Recap

During a rough 2022 season, Jorge Soler slashed .207/.295/.400/.695 with 14 HR/34 RBI (72 games). If there is a positive about the Cuban slugger, it was that he did live up to his power-hitting reputation. Before his back injury, Soler was on pace to surpass 30 home runs.

Soler’s 10.1% walk rate was right in line with his career average. However, he struck out 29.4% of the time, a disappointing step back after having a solid contact rate the year before.

Although he isn’t known for his defense, Soler played some solid left field—he even robbed a homer in his Marlins debut. He was close to a league-average defender at the position, according to defensive runs saved (-1 DRS) and outs above average (-2 OAA).

The best month of the season was May. The team around him struggled, but Soler did his part and slashed .253/.330/.609/.939 with 9 HR/19 RBI.

Soler was initially placed on the injured list on July 1. He briefly returned to the active roster later that month, then went on the IL for good on July 23. That was a turning point in the Marlins’ season.

  • Record entering July 23: 44-49 (.473 winning percentage)
  • Record from July 23 onward: 25-44 (.362 winning percentage)

Specifically, Soler’s absence meant that the Marlins didn’t have any power threats against left-handed pitching. In his half-season of availability, he hit six homers vs. lefties, twice as many as any other Marlin had all year.

2023 Preview

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

ZiPS Projection: .230 BA, .324 OBP, .447 SLG, .771 OPS, 24 HR, 54 RBI

As you can see, Soler is projected to bounce back to an extent, but not fully recapture the numbers he posted during his best MLB seasons.

I spoke to Soler earlier this month at the Marlins community event held in Coral Reef Park to kick off the 2023 tee-ball season. He said that he is 100% ready to go for Spring Training and is truly looking for a fresh start and “a reset” in 2023.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old is expected to take the majority of his at-bats as a designated hitter to prioritize his health, though the team has not communicated that directly to him, he said. On non-DH days, he would make the most sense as Miami’s left fielder. He mentioned to me that he has been preparing “very well” for the 2023 season. He seemed very motivated and ready to get back out there.

Once again, Soler has the opportunity to opt out of his contract and become a free agent at season’s end. His 2024 base salary is $9 million, but that could go up depending on his total number of plate appearances in 2023 (maxing out at $13 million for 550 PA).

Soler has had a pull-heavy batted ball profile for most of his career, so the MLB rule change restricting infield shifting could really help him. Last season, for example, opponents shifted him in 78% of his plate appearances—he posted an awesome .411 wOBA without the shift and struggled to a .275 wOBA when it was on. It’s fair to assume that his batting average on balls in play will improve from his most recent .256 mark.

Bold Prediction: Jorge Soler will surpass 30 home runs.


Will Jorge Soler opt out of his contract after this season?

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