Braves outfielder Jorge Soler has been removed from his team’s NLDS roster due to a positive test for COVID-19, the league announced. Cristian Pache has been approved as a substitute to take Soler’s spot on the roster. Soler will be allowed to return the club once he clears COVID protocols.
The news comes less than two hours before the Braves look to close out the Brewers in Game 4 of their NLDS series. Soler had been announced as Atlanta’s starting right fielder and leadoff hitter in the game, but the revised lineup now sees Joc Pederson slide from left field to right, Adam Duvall from center to left field, and Guillermo Heredia (batting eighth) added as the new starter in center.
Soler will be quarantined for at least five days, as per David O’Brien of The Athletic (Twitter link), and he has to cleared as non-infectious by a four-person joint health and safety committee (two doctors, and one representative each from the league and the players’ union). If he is able to return after only that five-day minimum, Soler would possibly be in line to play by Game 2 of the National League Championship Series if the Braves advance past Milwaukee.
It has been a tough postseason for Soler, who has only one hit in 13 NLDS plate appearances. Nonetheless, the veteran was a big reason why Atlanta won the NL East in the first place, as Soler hit .269/.358/.524 with 14 home runs over 242 PA after being acquired from the Royals in a trade deadline deal. Soler had struggled over the first four months of the season, so his re-emergence with the Braves will surely help the 29-year-old’s case in free agency this winter.
The bigger issue at hand for the moment, however, is that the Braves now have a significant hole in their lineup. The trio of Pederson, Duvall, and Eddie Rosario (along with Soler, all midseason pickups) now projects as Atlanta’s first-choice outfield, with Heredia, Pache, Terrance Gore, and utilitymen Ehire Adrianza and Orlando Arcia all providing additional depth.