The Braves’ midseason outfield reconstruction has been well-documented. Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario and — to a lesser extent — Joc Pederson and Adam Duvall all carried out at a excessive degree after being acquired in seemingly minor offers prematurely of the commerce deadline, a haul that helped Atlanta to a World Sequence title.
Solely Duvall stays on the roster, although, with every of Soler, Rosario and Pederson having certified without cost company on the finish of the season. It wouldn’t be shocking to see somebody from that group ultimately return, however all thirty golf equipment could have an opportunity to pursue that trio each time the lockout involves an finish.
Soler and Rosario, particularly, profile as two of probably the most intriguing remaining free agent outfielders. Each gamers started the yr within the AL Central — Soler in Kansas Metropolis, Rosario in Cleveland. Neither performed notably nicely at their preliminary cease, and Atlanta acquired them in separate deadline day swaps that price them solely money and one prospect: Kasey Kalich.
But each gamers flipped the script with a robust couple months in Atlanta. Soler hit .269/.358/.524 with 14 residence runs throughout 242 common season plate appearances with the Braves, offensive output that was 32 share factors above common by measure of wRC+. Rosario solely tallied 106 journeys to the dish down the stretch — he was on the injured checklist on the time of his commerce — however his .271/.330/.573 mark in that point checked in 33 factors above the league common.
Each gamers additionally had nice postseasons, though Soler’s was briefly interrupted by a optimistic COVID-19 take a look at. Rosario hit three homers in 28 plate appearances through the NLCS en path to collection MVP honors in a win over the Dodgers. Soler claimed the World Sequence MVP by hitting a trio of longballs towards the Astros throughout the next set.
Soler’s and Rosario’s heroics have been sufficient to cement their locations in Braves lore. Groups now contemplating a free agent pursuit of both have to find out what to anticipate transferring ahead, although. Relating to each gamers, that’s a troublesome query, contemplating their up-and-down monitor data earlier than they landed in Atlanta.
Soler, 30 in February, has been a prototypical three-true-outcomes slugger for a lot of his profession. His large energy made him a prime prospect, and whereas it took a couple of seasons for him to settle in as a daily, Soler demonstrated the offensive upside that had made him so extremely touted between 2018-19. Over these two seasons, the right-handed slugger hit .265/.354/.541 (132 wRC+) regardless of enjoying his residence video games in Kansas Metropolis’s spacious Kauffman Stadium. His 48 residence runs the latter yr paced the American League, and people energy outcomes have been backed up by top-of-the-scale batted ball metrics.
Along with that vast energy, Soler hardly ever chases pitches outdoors the strike zone. He’s walked at an above-average clip in every season since 2016. That’s a formidable mixture upon which to construct, however Soler additionally has actual swing-and-miss considerations. Apart from a 24-game exhibiting as a rookie, Soler has by no means had a season during which he’s made contact on even 70% of his swings; the 2021 league common, for reference, was 76.1%.
With that swing-and-miss comes a excessive strikeout fee that may tank Soler’s batting averages when issues aren’t going nicely. Between the beginning of 2020 and this previous summer time’s commerce deadline, he compiled 534 plate appearances of .204/.300/.394 hitting. That features an terrible .192/.288/.370 mark with the Royals in 2021, a nasty sufficient first half that every of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference truly pegged Soler’s general work this previous season as beneath substitute degree even after accounting for his late-season turnaround.
That additionally hints at one other purple flag in Soler’s sport: his protection. Public metrics have lengthy pegged him as a nicely below-average nook outfielder, and he spent a good chunk of time at designated hitter in Kansas Metropolis. The potential implementation of the common DH in collective bargaining talks may increase Soler’s market, however golf equipment are more and more cautious of committing on a regular basis DH at-bats to gamers until they’re an elite middle-of-the-order presence. Soler has been that caliber of hitter over a full season in 2019. He completed 2021 on an absolute tear. But the intervening season and a half have been fairly poor, and Soler doesn’t have the defensive profile to stay invaluable whilst he’s in a stoop offensively.
Rosario’s defensive monitor report can also be a bit spotty, however public metrics have typically been extra enthused together with his work than with Soler’s. He’s restricted to the corners — primarily left area — however he shouldn’t have to see an excessive amount of time at DH over the subsequent couple years. However Rosario has by no means matched Soler’s 2018-19 offensive peak, a minimum of not over a full season. The 30-year-old posted stable numbers every season from 2017-20 with the Twins, however he’s by no means had a season with a wRC+ greater than 17 factors above league common.
Rosario doesn’t include swing-and-miss considerations; he’s made contact at a stable fee 5 years operating. And whereas he doesn’t have elite energy, he’s actually able to making an affect on the plate. The left-handed hitter has three seasons with 24+ homers on his resume, and he sometimes posts exit velocities and laborious contact charges a bit above the respective league marks.
But Rosario’s offensive ceiling has been capped by how typically he swings. He’s one of many league’s most aggressive hitters, an method that results in a persistently low stroll fee. Rosario solely has one season beneath his belt (2017) with an on-base share larger than the league mark, with groups clearly apprehensive about that profile.
Final offseason, Rosario (who had been projected for an arbitration wage within the $8.6MM to $12.9MM vary) was handed by outright waivers and non-tendered by Minnesota. He started the 2021 marketing campaign with only a .254/.296/.389 mark over 306 plate appearances with the Indians. His stint in Atlanta was nice, however that came to visit a relatively small tally of 174 journeys to the plate, even together with the playoffs.
Every of Soler and Rosario current an attention-grabbing analysis for groups. They’re coming off wonderful second halves that carried over into implausible postseasons. But every participant is lower than six months faraway from quite vital struggles on non-contending golf equipment. For groups seeking to deal with their nook outfield conditions in free company but unwilling to spend on the degree it’d take to land Nick Castellanos or Kyle Schwarber, Soler and Rosario may every be targets popping out of the transactions freeze. Which participant ought to land the loftier contract?
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