Relive all of the ups and downs of the 2023 Miami Marlins with our Fish On First Season Review, containing detailed articles about a wide variety of players. The FOF staff analyzes the individual impact that each of them had and what it means for their future with the organization.
This installment focuses on designated hitter Jorge Soler.
- July 11—played in first career MLB All-Star Game
- September 6—placed on 10-day injured list (right oblique strain)
- September 8—announced as Marlins’ nominee for Roberto Clemente Award
- September 17—activated from 10-day injured list
- November 2—informed Marlins that he was opting out of the final year of his contract
Season stats: 137 G, .250/.341/.512, 126 wRC+, 36 HR, 75 RBI, 1.9 fWAR (age-31 season)
We really didn’t know which version of Jorge Soler the Marlins would get in 2023. Would he be the Kansas City version of himself who hit 48 home runs and a 137 OPS+ in 162 games in 2019? Or would he continue his disappointing Marlins stint on the heels of an injury-shortened 2022 season where he hit .207 and struck out 29.4% of the time?
At least for the first half of 2023, Miami got the best iteration of Soler we’ve ever seen. During his first 69 games, the 31-year-old hit 21 home runs and had a slash line of .260/.363/.560. He was striking out at a 23.6% clip and had a barrel rate of 17.1% and 20.5% in April and May, respectively.
Soler’s contributions in the first half of the year earned him a spot at the All-Star Game, joining Marlins teammate Luis Arraez in Seattle.
Soler’s second half saw a slight drop-off, with his strikeout rate climbing 3.5% and his slugging percentage dipping from .527 to .487. He also missed time in September with an oblique strain. Still, his home run production in the second half was on pace with his first half, hitting 13 home runs in 49 games after the break compared to 23 in 88 games prior to it.
Soler also stepped up when it mattered most—22 of his 36 home runs in 2023 either tied the game or gave the Marlins the lead. He hit .310/.434/.738 in 53 high-leverage plate appearances this year. His strikeout rate dipped to 20.8% in such situations.
Soler ended 2023 with a career high in walk rate (11.4%). He was also among MLB’s best qualified hitters against left-handers, per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Soler rarely played in the field more than a couple times per week and never started more than two consecutive days there. He recording minus-3 outs above average, according to Statcast, slightly worse than his career norm on a pro-rated basis.
Future with the Marlins
While it’s possible for Soler to re-sign with Miami, his 2023 season may have raised his market value higher than the Marlins are willing to go. Soler opted out of the $13 million remaining on his contract in order to test free agency. He was not issued a qualifying offer from the Marlins, which would have been worth $20.325 million for one year. A handful of teams have already expressed interest in him as of this writing.
Signing Soler to a substantial multi-year deal carries some risk considering his injury history and the limited value he provides outside of the batter’s box. However, he sticks out in a relatively weak MLB free agent class and the decision to withhold a qualifying offer means other teams can add him without sacrificing a future draft pick.
Fellow power hitter Josh Bell exercised his $16.5 million player option to stay with the Marlins. That should soften the blow of Soler’s likely departure.
Photo by Sam Navarro/Getty Images