On the heels of his World Series MVP with Atlanta, Soler signed a three-year, $36MM deal to take his talents to South Beach, with Soler also having the opportunity to opt out after each of the first two years of the deal. Unfortunately, he slumped to a .207/.295/.400 line in 2022, production that was just below league average, finishing with a wRC+ of 98. He also missed most of the second half of the season due to back spasms, which meant he only got into 72 games on the year.
Based on that disappointing campaign, it never seemed like there was any chance of him leaving money on the table and choosing to return to the open market. He’ll earn $15MM in 2023 and will then have the choice between opting out or sticking with the Marlins on a $9MM salary for 2024.
For the Marlins, they were hoping that Soler would be a key piece of a more potent offense in 2022 to complement their strong pitching staff. They signed both Soler and Avisaíl García, in addition to trading for Joey Wendle and Jacob Stallings. Neither of those moves really worked out and the club was fairly tepid with the bats yet again, producing a team-wide wRC+ of 88, placing them 25th in the league in that department.
For a second year in a row, the club will be going into the winter trying to find more offensive production. They will reportedly continue to consider using their pitching surplus in trades, though they will also have to hope for more from their four acquisitions from a year ago.
Soler has proven to be quite mercurial in recent years, oscillating between looking like one of the most dominant hitters on the planet and looking fairly lost at the plate. He had a tremendous breakout with the Royals in 2019, which included hitting 48 home runs. That was the infamous “juiced ball” season but wRC+, which controls for the surrounding offensive environment, still considered Soler to be 36% above the league-average hitter that year.
After a slight dip in production for the shortened 2020 season, Soler looked really rough in the first half of 2021. He slashed .192/.288/.370 before getting flipped to Atlanta at the deadline and turning things completely around. He hit .269/.358/.524 after the deal and then was even better in the postseason, leading to the aforementioned World Series MVP honors. Of course, as mentioned, Soler couldn’t sustain that into 2022.
The Marlins will now be hoping that the Soler seesaw has another bounce in it for 2023, though that would be something of a double-edged sword. If he gets things back on track in the coming season, he will have another opt-out chance with only one year and $9MM left on his deal. One year from now, Soler will be 31, about to turn 32. Even with his inconsistent track record, he would likely be able to top a $9MM guarantee if he goes into free agency on a high note again. But another poor season would leave the Marlins in the same position they’re in right now, crossing their fingers and hoping for him to turn things around.