A Case for Re-signing Jorge Soler and Clarifying Adam Duvall’s 2022

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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.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

52 thoughts on “A Case for Re-signing Jorge Soler and Clarifying Adam Duvall’s 2022”

  1. Actually, I think a better comp is Ozuna. Matter of fact, just look at their career OBP/SLG: .333/.461 for Ozuna, .331/.464 for Soler. Separated at birth.

    Soler has, on a half-year rental, given us basically the upper echelon of what we could have hoped for in year one of the Ozuna deal. I’d guess that Soler will want a better pillow contract than 1/$10, though, considering what we paid for guys like Donaldson and Ozuna. I personally see Soler in a better class than platoon guys like Duvall, whose sub-.300 career OBP sinks him as a starter, or Pederson, who just can’t hit southpaws.

  2. @2
    Donaldson and Ozuna had established track records. When the Braves signed Ozuna to a 1/$18MM deal, he’d had 4 years of consistent production with breakouts due to increased BABIP. After his 2020, that became 5 and he got his big deal. Soler doesn’t have that track record, nor the health track record. If he gets a 1 year deal in 2022 and performs well, he’ll finally get that big multi-year contract.

  3. Chris Martin is headed to a rehab assignment. Hopefully they can teach him how to pitch without sticky stuff.

  4. So, regarding Duvall: I understand that his contract contains a $7 million mutual option or a $3 million buyout for 2022. Assuming the Braves’ $3M payment is only due if they decline their side of the mutual option, then here are the ways it could play out (absent any kind of contract amendment):

    1) Braves exercise 2022 option but Duvall declines – Duvall is arb eligible, receives $0 buyout
    2) Braves decline 2022 option – Duvall is arb eligible, receives $3M buyout
    3) Braves and Duvall both exercise the 2022 mutual option – Braves pay Duvall $7M

    If all of these are correct and the Braves have to make their election without knowing in advance what Duvall will decide, then the Braves will exercise their option so long as they value Duvall’s 2022 at $4M+, and Duvall will decline his side of the option if he projects his 2022 arb salary at $7M+. Duvall would certainly get more than $4M in arbitration, so it wouldn’t make financial sense for the Braves to decline the 2022 option unless they were going to let Duvall walk.

    My guess is the Braves exercise the option.

  5. @5 .. well better hope they do .. hope they learned from last time and that mistake !!!! He is lower average hitter who produces HR and RBI ..got to have him back.

  6. I will probably be in the minority here, but I don’t think Atlanta should bring back all of these outfielders. If this year has proven anything, it is that it is not that hard to go out and find cheaper, semi valuable even if only one or two tooled outfielders. So paying $7 for Duvall and $10 for Soler and trying to keep Rosario sound nice based on the last month of results, but I’m not sure it is the best allocation of resources. Granted Atlanta has a few unknowns in the OF between Ozuna, Acuna and Pache. And of course their is another unknown in whether there will be a DH or even a season. I say make Soler the priority, but if he is too costly then you can pivot to Duvall. Joc can hit the road and idk about Rosario’s contract situation honestly.

  7. Agreed, and frankly, I feel like Duvall and Soler are mostly duplicative, and I haven’t seen enough of Rosario but I feel the same way about him — they’re all high-SLG right-handed corner outfielders. Duvall’s a couple of years older, and Soler has the highest OBP of all of them, though he’s likely to be the most expensive given that his 2019 was a much better season than either of the others has had. I think we should bring at least one of them back, but I’m willing to let price dictate that.

    But Ryan @3, I get what you’re saying but I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as that. After all, Ozuna had really only had one extremely good year prior to being signed by the Braves, 2017; Soler has really only had one extremely good year, 2019, and prior to 2020, Ozuna was as well known for his inconsistency as Soler is. Like I noted above, in general, their overall offensive performance over their career has been extraordinarily similar.

  8. I understand your argument, AAR…I just don’t agree with it. Being in a lineup and having slightly above average production over the course of 4 full seasons, then one breakout, got Ozuna his big contract. Soler has never done that and he has shown past inability to stay mechanically sound. He’s also only been in the league one year less than Ozuna, has 1800 less plate appearances and was toggled back and forth between MiLB and MLB in 2014,2015, 2016, and 2017. This year, he was horrible with KC for 2/3 of a year. He might get a 2 year deal, but I cannot imagine anyone is putting him on Ozuna’s level.

    We will find our answer this offseason.

  9. At the end of each game do you take all those bullshit numbers and decide who won and lost the game? Or do you not waste the time and say the Braves won or lost? I watch the game and enjoy it. You anilize the game to death and receive no joy. Eyes tell you all you need to know, that is if you understand the game. If you never played and don’t have a clue, than I guess numbers are all you know.
    What a waste of time. Would you also decide who won wars with some ridiculous formulas?
    You and Cash (I am smarter than Madden) would get along great. Who knows if 141 different lineups in 144 games has any benefits. NO ONE.
    ABSOLUTELY NO ONE.

  10. Duvall’s career OPS+ is 99.

    I’d resign one of those guys but certainly not all of them. For me, give me Soler.

    You ought to be able to find a cheaper bat than Duvall, who can hit better than .226 and with an OBP over .300. Or a more expensive one to be much better.

    Plus, he’s one year older. 33 year olds start to turn into pumpkins. He’s been worth 1.3 WAR this season and his average season per 162 games is 1.0 oWAR. His rPOS (runs from positional scarity) are -1 this season. I don’t buy into the 8MM/WAR thing and I don’t think other teams do either unless its for someone above 3-4 WAR per season. IMO if you’re a 1 WAR player, that’s worth half that, if that.

    Rosario’s career season avg per 162 games is 2.4 oWAR.

  11. @8 Duvall and Soler are kind of duplicative, insofar as they are both right-handed corner outfielders whose calling card is power and whose defense grades out somewhere between bad and acceptable. Soler has a higher ceiling and if I had to choose one of the two for the 2022 Braves, it’d be Soler. That said… por que no los dos?

    As of right now, the only OF the Braves have that you’d want to run out there full time is Acuna, and he’ll be coming back from a knee injury. Ozuna may be gone for good, and neither Pache nor Waters are beating down the door for a promotion to Atlanta. Duvall / Acuna / Soler would be a fine starting OF for 2022, at least to begin the year. And if the NL adds a DH for 2022, that would make it especially helpful to add Soler and Duvall to the mix so we could run out as deep of a lineup as possible.

    As I mentioned before, the Braves would have to pay $3M to decline Duvall’s option, so effectively speaking he’s either $4M more to keep if Duvall exercises his option or Braves pay $0 buyout and Duvall is arb-eligible, at which point we make the choice to sign him through arb or trade him. If the team can afford 2 years / $16M for D’Arnaud, can’t they afford 1 year / $4M for Duvall?

  12. Did the Braves non-tender Duvall last off-season? If so, it seems odd that they now have control over him and can take him to arbitration, but I guess his signing with Miami put him back on the arbitration service time clock. I assume he would rather play full-time, and that might not be likely if the Braves keep Soler and there’s no DH (assuming neither Duvall nor Acuna would play CF regularly).

    As much as I don’t like the DH, it would help make room for all three plus possibly Ozuna. It might even be useful to rest Acuna occasionally while keeping his bat in the lineup, though I wonder whether Acuna would get bored as a DH.

  13. I think the Braves need to bring back at least 2 of the OFs, and with the DH you can argue they need to bring back 3. Drew Waters has shown that he’s not ready so the team has a hole in LF. And I’m sure the team doesn’t want to rush Acuna back in RF.

    Pache has done pretty well at Gwinnett so he should probably get the CF job next season. But it would be nice to have a fallback option if he again struggles to hit MLB pitching. They could have the option to move Acuna to CF once he has shown he is healthy and could put the 2nd returning OF in RF.

    If they get the DH next season Soler could slot in there. Rosario/Duvall could play the corners until Acuna returns, and then be an insurance policy against Pache struggling. If Pache does well and Acuna has no problems, then Rosario and Duvall could platoon in LF and with Soler at DH if necessary.

  14. @11

    As an editor here, I don’t really understand who you’re talking to and it doesn’t seem to fit into our conversation. Whom are you criticizing? Seems bottish.

  15. @11, Thelonious, I think that’s uncalled for. A big part of the reason a lot of us come here is to be able to debate the numbers. If you don’t care for that, you can scroll down.

    Part of the reason that Jorge Soler was up and down, as I recall, was that the Cubs had blocked him the lineup — in 2016, they had free agents Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward next to him in the field, with top prospects Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber knocking on the door, and Ian Happ just after them. Prior to that, Arismendy Alcantara was another prospect flop, as he struggled to succeed in limited playing time. Soler also certainly had injury troubles.

    Still, his prospect profile is pretty well illustrated by the $30 million he got as a 20-year-old Cuban defector; going into the 2013 season, BA had him as the 34th-best prospect in baseball. Marcell Ozuna, by contrast, signed as an 18-year-old Dominican free agent, meaning that he was much lower profile in his prospect class. (Anyone high-profile signs as a 16-year-old.) His best ranking was as the 75th-best prospect, going into 2013. So he’s overachieved while Soler has underachieved — and he has nearly twice the PA, for all the reasons you mentioned — but nonetheless, their rate stats are nearly identical.

    Based purely on the bat, I thought Ozuna was a great signing. I don’t think Soler will get 4/$65, but over the last four seasons he’s got a 119 OPS+ and 119 wRC+; Ozuna’s only at 115 over the period, for what it’s worth. The biggest reason Soler has been less valuable than Ozuna over that time period is defense, as he gets a huge negative adjustment for being a full-time DH, which Ozuna would have already become by now, if the DH had come to the National League.

    So, let’s say he’s a bat-first player worth somewhere between 1.5 – 2.0 WAR. That would suggest a contract somewhere between $12M – $16M, which feels about right to me.

    Alex did a fantastic job at the deadline of picking up some distressed assets, but it isn’t easy to find a guy in the offseason who hit 48 homers two years ago. If it were, we wouldn’t have given 175 PA to Abraham Almonte.

    UPDATE: It’s a little weird to write that many words about Marcell Ozuna without noting the elephant in the room, which is that, given the domestic violence allegations, I would prefer not to root for Ozuna ever again. So I’m just evaluating what we knew about the back of his baseball card at the time he signed.

  16. I will be at the games Wednesday and Thursday, if anyone is interested in meeting an internet rando.

  17. Yeah, if you don’t like Braves analysis then you shouldn’t be reading here. The name of this blog is “Braves Journal.”

  18. @13 .. lwt me remind you Duvall leads team in HR and RBI .. he is a low average RBI producer ..I will take the lower BA and increased production over Soler .. yea Soler has played better than he had been .. but I think Duval is better in clutch situations and RBI opportunities … ideally you have Acuna, Duval , Soler and Rosario next year but question who plays CF ..with Acuna coming off knee surgery .. I says keep Heredia .. good defense .. good in the clubhouse .. great in the dugout keeping everybody loose .. Adrianza I think has been a keeper … they are expecting maybe a MLB ban on Ozuna without pay in 2022 .. use his $$$$ for Soler and Rosario .. still need a true closer though .. that may take top priority !! Thoughts ????????????????????????????

  19. I just assumed that Thelonious is a reporter for the Palm Coast Tribune, but I haven’t anilized it closely.

  20. Great post, Ryan. Good information and thoughtful analysis. And the thread itself is up to the usual high standard of this forum. The discussion you and Alex held was typically insightful and reasoned. The regulars are again their regular intelligent and articulate selves.

    Bravo Zulu to all.

  21. I like everything I’ve heard about Adam Duvall as a teammate and a person, and I’m very glad that the Braves have him. But going forward, I believe Soler has much more upside. As Chief pointed out, Duvall is several years older. More importantly, Duvall’s offensive value is always going to be limited because he makes too many outs. His career OBP is below.300, and he’s been remarkably consistent in that regard. He BB% is never more then 7%.
    Soler’s BB% has always been over 10% and it’s currently running 12%. If he hits .265 (as he did in 2018 and 2019), his OBP will be over .350. That’s a big difference.

  22. This is likely not in the top ten things that have gone wrong with the Rockies’ season, but Raimel Tapia, a hitter with a lifetime .326 OBP, should not ever be a leadoff hitter. He is fast, and has power potential that he only occasionally taps into, but he is not a leadoff hitter. Twenty years after the Oakland revolution, this is the kind of dumb thing that, when you see a team do it, they are distinguishing themselves.

    The Rockies are one of the most distinguished teams in the league.

  23. Snit is always leaving pitchers in too long .. Touki is a HR machine .. Kyle Muller please.. Touki need to realize you have to get ahead in counts

  24. News alert. The Braves do not have a fifth starter. In addition they have a moronic coaching staff. Sorry my apologies, you all ready knew that.

  25. Chip simply doesn’t study the game and that might be the most infuriating part about him being bad at his job.

  26. Meanwhile, the Cubs decided it was a good idea to use a pitcher with a 6+ ERA in the sixth inning with a lead.

    A 4-1 Cubs lead is now 4-3 with one out and two on.

  27. @37: You simply don’t understand the mind of Chip Caray. (1) Everyone should hit to the off-field; (2) Soler has, on occasion, hit to the off-field; Therefore (3) No one should ever shift.

    It’s simple logic.

  28. Note to Chip and Jeff: “Another day off the calendar” and “The magic number falls to 15” are exactly the same point.

  29. Braves lose. Phillies lose. Mets lose. Reds lose. St. Louis won, but that was against the Mets… somebody had to win (it took 11).

    As Chip says: can you beat a pennant race?

  30. Snit just doesn’t know when a pitcher aint got it …. Touki was bad .. if he gets pulled in the 4th .. we win .. and Chavez gives up deciding run .. if we couida just got Freddie up there ..

  31. Here is Adam Duvall’s 2019 – 2021 statistical line while as a member of the Atlanta Braves:
    72 R / 39 HR / 85 RBI (137 games / 451 AB)
    .241 AVG / .305 OBP / .550 SLG
    2.3 fWAR

    Adam Duvall is not a full time starter on a pennant caliber club, but he is certainly worthy of consideration for a slot in the 2022 Braves outfield.

  32. Yep, that’s exactly right. As a part-time player rotating through the outfield and DH, he’s a fine fourth outfielder. And the fact that he plays better defense than you’d expect — hell, I probably trust his glove more than Inciarte’s at this point — suggests that he may age a bit more gracefully than most one-dimensional right-handed sluggers.

  33. @49, @50 – Duvall’s line may not be ideal for a full-time starter for a pennant caliber club, but I expect that if you look at, say, the last 20 pennant winners, a bunch of them will have had one or two full-time starters with fewer than 3 fWAR (prorating Duvall’s 2.3 over 590 AB), or fewer than 2.3 over 451 AB. I don’t like the OBP either, but I can see why he would think he should play full-time. Of course, since he’s still under team control, he may not have that option.

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