Will Josh Bell and Jorge Soler boost their market value?
First up, two of the biggest reasons the Miami Marlins are in these playoffs to begin with: Josh Bell and Jorge Soler.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, the only thing more unlikely than a deep playoff run in 2023 might be finding themselves in a position to keep both of these players in 2024. Technically, both of them are under contract for next season. However, both of them have the ability to opt out. Should they do so, and not return on a new deal, they would be leaving two massive holes in a lineup that had already struggled at times to put runs on the board.
In Soler's case, opting out seems all but certain, and has been viewed in that way since May. This 2023 campaign was the second best season of his career when it comes to the traditional counting stats, though curiously his first time earning All-Star honors. However, if you're a fan of WPA, this was Soler's best year by far. He did miss significant time due to injury in the second half though, which could help to somewhat lower his cost. Additionally, after reports early in the year that suggested he had serious misgivings about the playing surface at loanDepot Park, and consequently returning to the Marlins in 2024, that position has seemingly softened as the season has gone on. Still, he would be a top five hitter in free agency if he decides to test the market. At the least.
As for Bell, it's been a rollercoaster ride projecting what he'll do. After a scorching start following his arrival at the trade deadline from Cleveland, one that saw him approach franchise record territory for home runs in the first few weeks of a Marlins career, his opting in for next year quickly went from being viewed as expected to extremely unlikely. But then the adrenaline wore off, and he spent four weeks being much closer to his career norm- a useful but average player. He's started coming around again of late though, and did just deliver the game sealing hit in Miami's postseason clinching victory Saturday. As for how he feels about Miami in general, he's been very candid about how much he loves it here. Sadly, he's a Scott Boras client...so there's that.
All that remains to see is what kind of postseason show they put on. Soler, as the savvy baseball fan knows, has been a monster in October. He boasts a .292/.418/.692 line across 79 plate appearances, along with six homers, including that fabled moonshot for the Braves in the 2021 World Series. If he taps into some of that postseason magic again in 2023, even over just two or three games, he'll very likely be in line for one of the biggest hitter contracts of the offseason. Bell seems much more likely to return to Miami, but the only question is whether it's on a one year deal or a costly by Marlins standards extension. His playoff production could well be the tiebreaker.
Just something to keep in mind while watching these games. Provided you can take your eyes off the Marlins player standing in the spotlight...