The Braves struck oil at the deadline, acquiring much needed depth in the lineup adding Adam Duvall (.850 OPS) and Eddie Rosario (.903 OPS). Joc Pederson has faded some and his defense remains questionable at best, but there’s no one that has made a larger impact on the Braves offense than Jorge Soler.
We all knew Jorge Soler had light-tower power. In 2019, Soler carried a .922 OPS and smacked 48 HRs, mostly serving as the DH for the Kansas City Royals. However, what most looked over (likely due to a mediocre BA) was his ability to take a walk. Coming into today, Soler is only carrying a .331 career OBP, however his career walk rate is 10.3%. Thus far, that number has increased with the Braves at 12%.
By now, I’m sure you’re fully aware of BABIP, the warning signs of high BABIP blips and low BABIP breakthroughs. Soler was getting BABIP’d to death (see this piece) earlier this season and Anthopoulos took a gamble on luck evening out. Oh boy, did he nail this one. Since joining the Braves, Soler is slashing .281/.365/.534. And while that’s not the ever sought after .300/.400/.500 slash line, it carries the same OPS.
As stated, Soler primarily served as the DH for the Royals but was utilized around 40-50 games/year in the OF to disastrous results. Since becoming a Brave, Soler’s defense has told a different story as he’s largely been a neutral defender in RF. Yes, it could be the small sample but it’s been widespread in the baseball industry that the Royals have been lagging in analytical research for years and it could very well be that positioning has hurt Soler’s ratings over the years. The Braves are highly researched and analytical on defense and even made Nick Markakis look good in right field. With the fence adjustment in right center, Truist plays smaller than many right fields and combine that with analytics, and one can see a major change in Soler’s defense. He’s big, but not slow. His arm’s good, not great. He catches the balls he should. If he continues to hit, I’ll take average defensively.
A Marcell Ozuna Suspension Seems Likely
I’m not going to dwell on this. Hell, I don’t even like talking about it, but if the suspension handed down to Sam Dyson holds true for Marcell Ozuna, he could very well be sidelined without pay for the entire 2022 season. With the OF already razor thin, subtracting Ozuna will make it a must to make additions.
Re-Upping Jorge Soler
I cannot imagine that the Braves are going to let Ronald Acuña Jr. move as fast as he’d like to with his rehab. I’m sure when April 2022 comes around, Acuña will be begging to be on the Opening Day roster but the Braves will wait for 2-3 weeks to let the ligament strengthen. Adding Acuna to Ozuna, then looking around at internal options, you can see the same problem I see…there’s a HUGE hole in 2022’s OF and it’s anyone’s guess on who’s manning any of the 3 OF positions on Opening Day.
Soler likely won’t be asking for the moon and, furthermore, would like to prove that his time in Atlanta was no fluke. If the Braves were to offer him a 1/$10MM contract for the 2022 season tomorrow, I bet he’d take it. He’s been a wonderful fit in the lineup, and, as weird as it is, has not killed the Braves defensively. With the DH likely in-tow next season, re-signing Soler seems too easy. If I were the Braves and I were looking at the 2022 remarkably weak free agent market, I’d do my best to secure Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall before they have a chance to explore the market, and don’t get me started on Freddie Freeman.
Explaining Adam Duvall‘s Offseason Complication
Adam Duvall was allowed to walk last offseason and ended up signing with the Marlins. Here was that announcement:
The Marlins added much-needed power to their lineup on Wednesday, announcing the signing of free-agent outfielder Adam Duvall to a one-year deal. The contract is worth a guaranteed $5 million: $2 million in 2021, with a $7 million mutual option or a $3 million buyout for ’22, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.Christina De Nicola
When the Braves traded for Adam Duvall, that option transferred to them. Yes, the option is mutual, meaning both parties have to agree to the option. Duvall, already receiving 3 of the 7 million as a buyout, would only make an additional $4MM in 2022. However, if he declines, the Braves can still retain him as he’s still, somehow, arbitration eligible. My guess is that Duvall will decline, but the Braves will try to retain him through arbitration.