Ranking the Top 10 Landing Spots for Jorge Soler in MLB Free Agency

Brandon Scott@@brandonkscottFeatured Columnist IJanuary 27, 2022

Ranking the Top 10 Landing Spots for Jorge Soler in MLB Free Agency

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    One player who appears to have made a lot of money for himself on the back end of the 2021 season is free-agent slugger Jorge Soler

    The reigning World Series MVP started last season toiling in obscurity for the Kansas City Royals.

    After slamming 48 home runs for the Royals in 2019, Soler had a down season in 2020, then started 2021 with a 79 wRC+.

    Following his trade to Atlanta, though, he looked rejuvenated, putting up a 132 wRC+ in 55 games. He capped his resurgence with a World Series performance that saw him hit three home runs and record a 1.191 OPS.

    Yet, with a deeply talented free-agent class, Soler is not considered one of the top players available. Nonetheless, he will make a team better once he finds a landing spot. 

    Here is a ranking of 10 potential spots, with fit, need and willingness to spend factored into the equation.

10. Colorado Rockies

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Soler is a fit in Colorado if the designated hitter comes to the National League. His power would be an immediate upgrade to the Rockies' lineup, which was 24th in home runs and 29th in OPS+ last season. 

    If the Rockies are looking to make a big splash, they probably will target Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, who project to sign lengthier and more expensive deals. 

    But if they want a reasonable, cost-effective and incremental improvement to their roster, Soler is worth heavily considering. 

    He would be a nice consolation for a team not expected to be in the mix for a top free agent. For MLB Trade Rumors' top 50 free-agent rankings last November, writer Steve Adams predicted Soler to Colorado.

9. Miami Marlins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Nothing about the way this organization moves would suggest they would be interested in top-of-the-market free agents. 

    That likely rules out Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, Trevor Story and Kyle Schwarber. 

    But the Marlins have needs all over and could settle for a less expensive Soler. Fresh off a World Series MVP, the Cuban native would add some much-needed star power to the franchise and cost much less than the top players available.

    With the universal designated hitter, this would make even more sense in Miami.

    The Marlins had the second-lowest OPS and third-fewest home runs last year. Adding Soler would immediately improve the team in those areas.

8. Milwaukee Brewers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    If recency bias is worth anything, the Brewers should know firsthand how dangerous Soler can be from the plate. In six regular-season games played against them last year, Soler was 7-for-21 with three home runs, four RBI and scored four runs.

    Though his glove is a liability, Soler spent most of his time in right field last year, and the Brewers could still use some outfield depth with Avisail Garcia opting out of his contract and headed to Miami. The question really is how much they are willing to pay. 

    In MLB Trade Rumors free-agent rankings, they predicted a three-year, $36 million deal for Soler. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes picked the Brewers as Soler's destination.

7. Chicago Cubs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Ever since the Cubs' fire sale of their 2016 World Series core, it's been fun to romanticize bringing back players from those not-so-long-ago glory years. 

    That's because so many of them became free agents this offseason—Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez before he signed with the Detroit Tigers. 

    Soler might be the one who gets discussed the least but makes the most sense for a reunion. 

    If the universal designated hitter is adopted from this collective bargaining agreement, Soler is a prime DH candidate on the North Side. 

    Soler turns 30 in February and has never been known as a great defender. But for likely a fraction of the cost for say, Schwarber or Bryant, the Cubs could at least lock up a key spot in their lineup.

6. Boston Red Sox

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The Red Sox have an obvious need in the outfield after trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers just before the lockout. Should Boston allow Kyle Schwarber to walk in free agency, that need would become even more pressing.

    If they are not targeting one of the top outfielders on the market, it's reasonable for the Red Sox to be in the mix for Soler. 

    Boston could play Soler in right field or have him as insurance for incumbent designated hitter J.D. Martinez.

    It was evident last year how much better Soler can be in a more talented lineup. His numbers skyrocketed after the trade to Atlanta from Kansas City, as he saw more fastballs and showed more plate discipline. 

    The idea of signing Soler for a reasonable clip—MLBTR projects three years, $36 million; FanGraphs predicts two years, $18 million—should be appealing to a Red Sox organization that's pinched pennies for the past couple of years.

5. Seattle Mariners

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Here is another place where Soler ideally serves as a primary designated hitter but could also be used in the outfield. 

    Also appealing is the potential bargain for someone who hits the ball hard and far. Soler’s average exit velocity is over 91 mph, and his hard-hit percentage was 47 percent last year, according to Baseball Savant

    The biggest splashes Seattle has made so far this offseason are signing reigning American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and trading for All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier. 

    In making moves for Ray and Frazier, the Mariners addressed two of their biggest offseason needs: starting pitching and an infielder. 

    One more need for the Mariners is another impact bat for an offense that had the fifth-lowest slugging percentage and ninth-lowest OPS+ in baseball last year.

4. Texas Rangers

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Rangers have already committed big money to free agents this offseason. They spent more than $550 million before the lockout, but what if they were only getting started?

    Did this lockout just slow them down from adding the power they really need in that lineup?

    Signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien will help Texas from an overall talent standpoint, but they can't fix everything for an offense that finished third-worst in OPS+, runs and slugging percentage.

    Inserting Soler into the lineup with Seager, Semien, Adolis Garcia, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Nathaniel Lowe, suddenly makes it a much more interesting offense. 

    Soler also provides depth at right field behind Kole Calhoun, who had three stints on the injured list last year.

3. Tampa Bay Rays

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    Steve Nesius/Associated Press

    A move like this would feel like the Rays trading for designated hitter Nelson Cruz from the Minnesota Twins last year. 

    Soler would be a younger replacement for Cruz—a free agent himself—and his price tag and length of contract fit right up the Rays' alley.

    Unlike in previous years, the Rays showed some pop last season. They tied for sixth in home runs and were third in OPS+

    If Tampa is going to maximize its championship window, having a bat like Soler's is a good idea. Just ask Atlanta about that. 

    A younger version of Cruz on a relatively short-term deal should appeal to the Rays. Having a legitimate shot at a third World Series ring and two in back-to-back seasons should appeal to Soler.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Joe Puetz/Associated Press

    The Cardinals might be the perfect team to mask Soler's defensive deficiencies. They already prevent the most runs and have the best outs above average, according to Baseball Savant.

    This move would ultimately give the Cardinals another threat in the middle of their lineup. St. Louis ranked in the middle of the pack in major offensive categories (ranked 11th in OPS+ and tied for 15th home runs), so the team could use a boost at the plate.

    With opposing pitchers already having to worry about Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and 2021 breakout Tyler O'Neill, Soler would have a chance to do some serious damage.

    As with the previously mentioned NL teams, investing in Soler makes even more sense if the National League adopts the designated hitter. 

    Plus, it would not hurt to add some depth in the outfield. Soler could play right field sparingly, with Dylan Carlson filling the role primarily. 

1. Atlanta Braves

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    There is no place like home, and Soler certainly made one for himself in Atlanta. 

    It was almost as if he became an entirely different player when he started the season in Kansas City, and finished it for Atlanta. 

    Soler slashed .192/.288/.370 with 13 home runs in 360 plate appearances for the Royals last year. The script flipped once he was traded to Atlanta, where he slashed .269/.358/.524 with 14 homers in 242 plate appearances. 

    How sustainable is it? Was it just a flash in the pan?

    Hard to say, but Soler's plate discipline also improved in Atlanta, at times making him a viable leadoff hitter. 

    The Braves are already in jeopardy of losing the entire outfield it acquired at the deadline (Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson are all free agents), as well as franchise hero Freddie Freeman. 

    Bringing back the World Series MVP makes sense, especially if there is a universal DH.