HomeMLB RumorsBlue Jays Interested In Jorge Soler

Blue Jays Interested In Jorge Soler

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The Blue Jays have shown interest in free agent slugger Jorge Soler, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports.  Toronto joins the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Nationals, and Marlins as clubs linked to Soler’s market at various points this winter.

It isn’t any surprise that the Jays have joined the fray, as Toronto has reportedly been looking into numerous free agent and trade options on the position-player side.  With Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto now off the board, the Blue Jays’ adds have been limited to more defense-oriented pickups like Kevin Kiermaier and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, rather than any clear upgrades to what was a middling lineup in 2023.  Speaking with the media earlier this week, GM Ross Atkins said the Blue Jays might add perhaps just one more bat, “most likely be in the outfield or DH category.”

Soler fits that description, moreso as a designated hitter than as a viable regular in the outfield.  Soler has made only 89 appearances in the outfield for the Marlins over the last two seasons, operating as a part-time left fielder in 2022 and then a part-time right fielder in 2023.  Public defensive metrics have never liked Soler’s work in right field but he has been slightly closer to passable over his more limited experience of 875 career innings as a left fielder.

Since Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho are both left-handed hitters, a scenario exists where the right-handed hitting Soler could see some action in left field when a southpaw is on the mound, with one of Kiermaier/Varsho moving to the bench and the other playing in the center field.  As much as the Jays have prioritized defense over the last year, if Soler could match his 2022 left field numbers (-1 Defensive Runs Saved, -2 Outs Above Average, -2.5 UZR/150) with his strong offensive numbers from 2023, that’s probably a tradeoff the Blue Jays would be happy to accept, especially since Soler would still be spending more of his time as a DH.

Soler hit .250/.341/.512 with 36 home runs over 580 plate appearances for Miami last season, translating to a 126 wRC+.  It was a good enough year for Soler to exercise the opt-out clause in his deal, as he chose free agency and the promise of a larger contract over the one year and $13MM remaining on his Marlins contract.  Soler originally signed a three-year, $36MM pact with the Fish in the 2021-22 offseason but stumbled to a 95 wRC+ during an injury-marred 2022 campaign.

Though better health was a logical reason for Soler’s bounceback year, it also continued the pattern of inconsistency that has marked Soler’s 10 Major League seasons.  Breaking into the majors as a heavily-hyped prospect in the Cubs system, Soler has a 119 wRC+ over his career, bolstered by particularly strong offensive showings in 2018, 2019 (when he led the AL with 48 homers), and last season.  However, between his defensive showcomings and several other seasons when he has provided closer to league-average offense, Soler has only 7.4 fWAR to show for his 870 career games in the Show.

Perhaps the 2021 season is the best summation of Soler’s roller-coaster nature and high ceiling, as he struggled with the Royals before being traded to the Braves at the 2021 deadline.  The switch was suddenly flipped, as Soler went on a tear after joining the Braves and earned World Series MVP honors as Atlanta captured the championship.  Soler isn’t exactly a sure thing at the plate as he enters his age-32 season, and MLB Trade Rumors’ projection of a three-year, $45MM deal (Soler ranked 16th on our list of the winter’s top 50 free agents) reflected this uncertainty about his offense, and his lack of defensive utility.

Still, at this relatively modest price tag, Soler might be something of a bargain if he keeps hitting as he did in 2023, and the move out of spacious loanDepot Park might also help Soler’s efforts.  As per Statcast’s Park Factor metrics, however, Toronto’s Rogers Centre was only slightly more hitter-friendly than loanDepot Park in 2023, which could deflect any combination of the Blue Jays’ lack of hitting, their strong pitching and defense, or some effects of the new outfield dimensions created by the Jays’ renovations to their ballpark.

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