Free agent slugger Jorge Soler has seen his potential landing spots dwindle a bit, with previously reported suitors like the Blue Jays (Justin Turner), Mariners (Mitch Garver) and Diamondbacks (Joc Pederson) all going in different directions to sign their primary designated hitters this winter. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi touched on Soler’s market this morning (video link), reporting that the 31-year-old is still seeking a three-year contract in free agency. The length of the pact has been a hold-up, as Soler has had teams willing to go to two years but has yet to be offered a guaranteed third season.
The Giants were reported to be in talks with Soler last week, and Morosi suggests they’re among the teams comfortable at two years but balking at the third season. Other teams that have been tied to Soler this offseason include the Red Sox, Nationals and, to a much lesser extent, the incumbent Marlins. Soler himself said last month that Miami hasn’t shown real interest in a reunion, however. The D-backs, notably, are still looking for a right-handed bat to pair with the lefty-swinging Pederson, but it’s hard to imagine Soler signing anywhere without a clear path to full-time at bats. A timeshare with Pederson at DH plus some occasional corner outfield work would be a surprise.
That’s due in no small part to the fact that Soler is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He belted 36 home runs for the Fish in 2023, slashing a robust .250/.341/.512 (126 wRC+). Long known as a strikeout-prone player, Soler’s 24.3% strikeout rate last year was the second-lowest of his career and only 1.6 percentage points higher than the league average. His 11.4% walk rate, meanwhile, was the second-highest of his career. He paired that improved K/BB profile with his typical brand of loud contact. Soler averaged 91.3 mph off the bat, hit 48% of his batted balls at 95mph or greater, and barreled 15% of his batted balls — all ranking in the 81st percentile of MLB hitters or better, per Statcast.
Spring training’s looming start date could put some added pressure on Soler and other free agents to consider a drop in asking price, although that cuts both ways. Teams seeking offensive upgrades have watched alternative options come off the board and have fewer avenues to pursue. The onset of camp also generally brings about quite a few injury scenarios of note, any of which could radically alter the market for Soler and other free agents. An injury for someone on one of Soler’s rumored suitors (Giants, Red Sox, etc.) or even on a contending club that hasn’t yet shown interest could prove to be a catalyst for his market, just as we saw with the Astros and Josh Hader (who signed in Houston following a season-ending injury to Kendall Graveman).
Soler opted out of the final season of a three-year, $36MM contract with the Marlins at the beginning of the offseason, turning down a $13MM player option. That he’s had teams willing to offer two years suggests he indeed had more earning power than that $13MM on the open market, but many free agents have seen muted interest as teams throughout the league deal with uncertainty regarding their television contracts. A multi-year deal still seems likely for Soler. Speculatively speaking, however, if no three-year pact presents itself and the two-year interest he’s received has been at average annual rates that aren’t to his liking, Soler could follow Teoscar Hernandez and max out on the largest one-year commitment he can find, then take another shot at free agency next winter.