Jorge Soler has informed the Marlins he is declining his $13MM player option for next season, reports Craig Mish of SportsGrid (Twitter link). He is a free agent and will be able to begin negotiating with other teams on Monday.
It’s an entirely unsurprising decision. Soler, 32 in February, is coming off his best season in a few years. He connected on 36 home runs with a .250/.341/.512 batting line. The right-handed hitter walked at a strong 11.4% clip while cutting his strikeout rate to a manageable 24.3%.
That marked a strong rebound showing after a tough first year in South Florida. Originally signed to a three-year, $36MM guarantee during the 2021-22 offseason, Soler slumped to a .207/.295/.400 slash over 72 games a season ago. He had an opt-out possibility last winter but understandably forewent a trip to the open market. With a much better platform performance, he’ll get to the market this time around.
While Soler’s opt-out call was made without much suspense, it puts the onus on Miami to answer a more interesting question. The Fish have until Monday to determine whether to tender a $20.325MM qualifying offer. If they do, Soler would have just over a week to gauge the market before deciding if he wants to accept.
In the event Miami opts against the QO or Soler declines one, he’ll be one of the top offensive players in a rough free agent class. Soler doesn’t offer much defensive value. He’s a well below-average corner outfielder who spent the majority of his time at designated hitter this past season. Miami plugged him into right field for just 241 2/3 innings. Few impending free agents can match his power upside, although Soler’s pre-2023 production has been inconsistent.
Miami’s QO decision is clouded by an uncertain front office picture. General manager Kim Ng recently departed the organization and the club has yet to name her replacement. Brian Chattin is leading the front office on an interim basis. Miami also awaits an opt-out decision from first baseman Josh Bell, while they’re sure to decline team provisions on Johnny Cueto and Matt Barnes.