Jorge Soler could fill big need for Padres

Sep 24, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler (12) watches after hitting a single against the Milwaukee Brewers during the sixth inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres desperately need depth in the lineup, especially at designated hitter. A former World Series MVP could be of service.

While pitching appears to be the most glaring need for the Padres this offseason, the batting lineup cannot be neglected. Gary Sanchez, Rougned Odor, Garrett Cooper, Ji Man Choi, and Jurickson Profar are all now free agents.

That is an enormous hit to the overall depth of the Padres bats. In fact, the situation is dire enough to where FanGraphs slates Matthew Batten in the starting lineup with Eguy Rosario, Matt Carpenter, Brett Sullivan, and Jose Azocar as the bench options.

Clearly, there is a need to add big league-caliber bats.

Jorge Soler fits the bill perfectly.

He certainly won’t be as expensive as the likes of Shohei Ohtani or even Cody Bellinger. There is a big enough hole in his swing (26.7% career strikeout rate) to bring the cost down. However, there is no denying that Soler has some of the best raw power in baseball.

He smacked 36 homers for the Miami Marlins this past season, which marks the second time in four seasons he surpassed 35 dingers (48 in 2019).

Yes, his career high is just two homers short of Greg Vaughn‘s franchise single-season home run record in San Diego.

He posted a highly respectable .853 OPS and near stellar 128 OPS+ as well. Throughout the 2023 season, Soler had three separate months with an OPS over .900.

Left-handed pitchers quiver in fear of Soler, with his 1.080 OPS against southpaws last season. That would compliment the Padres well, as they are stuck with lefty Matt Carpenter, needing a spot who hits righties better.

Soler hits the ball really hard. That is his calling card. While he doesn’t always make contact, when he does, it’s spectacular. He ranks in the 91st percentile for barrel rate and 94th percentile for expected slugging percentage.

Adding Soler to a lineup with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, and Xander Bogaerts would make them one of the more feared slugging teams in the game.

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While Soler would serve as a platoon DH, he does not need to be strictly a designated hitter. Over the last two seasons, he logged 89 games in the outfield for Miami. His fielding ability leaves something to be desired, but in a pinch, he could provide depth in the outfield.

Spotrac’s average market value projection has Soler getting just under $14 million per season. That still might be steeper than the Padres want to go, but in an offseason with limited options for quality bats, they will need to play ball with agents to get some thump in the lineup.

Soler also has that coveted experience in October. He was part of the 2016 Cubs, who ended the curse, going 2-for-5 with a triple in the World Series. His second World Series, in 2021 for the Braves against the Astros, was the stuff of legends. He bashed three homers, including one that may still be orbiting the Earth in Game 6 that broke a scoreless tie. He won World Series MVP honors in the Braves’ victory.

The Padres need more pop after losing a huge chunk of their depth this offseason. Soler would provide instant pop with home run power that might require extra protection to be placed on the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

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