Marlins envision more time at DH for Soler

GM Ng discusses Mattingly's role, coaching staff, free-agent market and more

November 10th, 2022

The Hot Stove season is here, and the Marlins already have begun making moves to shore up their 40-man roster.

The General Managers Meetings are taking place in Las Vegas, where colleague Mandy Bell relayed questions to Kim Ng on Wednesday.

Will Jorge Soler be back next year? Does the club envision him as a designated hitter or outfielder?
Soler did not exercise his opt-out, which means he will return in 2023 and as of now will be the highest-paid Marlin ($15 million). He appeared in just 72 games due to pelvic and back issues, finishing his first season in Miami on the 60-day injured list. The Marlins signed the '21 World Series MVP to be a middle-of-the-order threat, and Soler was on a 30-homer pace until being sidelined.

The 30-year-old played 57 games in left field, recording no errors, four assists, -1 defensive runs saved and -2 outs above average. He served as the DH 14 times.

"Here's what I'll say about Jorge: I think he's very serviceable out in the outfield," Ng said. "I do think that he will spend more time at DH. But having talked to [manager Skip Schumaker] some now, I think he also sees DH as a place where we can rest guys throughout the season. Again, I see Jorge spending more time at DH, I just don't know that he's going to be an absolute full-time DH."

That is the way many National League clubs used the universal DH in 2022, with the Marlins turning to 13 players. The '23 outfield is a question mark for Miami, whose other big free-agent signee in '22 was right fielder Avisaíl García. Both Jesús Sánchez and Bryan De La Cruz were demoted, though the latter finished the season strong in center. Rookie JJ Bleday experienced growing pains once he received a callup on July 23.

Will Don Mattingly be back in an advisory-type role?
"Hope he does," Ng said.

Mattingly and the Marlins mutually agreed the organization needed a new voice at the helm, so there were no hard feelings when they parted ways after seven seasons. His successor, Schumaker, played for Mattingly's Dodgers in 2013.

What's the latest on the coaching staff?
Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and bullpen coach Wellington Cepeda are back, but the remainder of the staff has yet to be announced. Schumaker wants familiar faces to surround him -- either people he played with, coached with or he has known from being on the other side.

"We are making progress," Ng said. "We have zoned in on several guys, and so we're still talking to them. But we're narrowing it."

Will the Marlins be in on the top free-agent shortstops or relievers?
"I think first trying to get a lay of the land with the other clubs, then having an understanding of the trade market before we dabble too hard or too quickly in free agency," Ng said. "I think there are a number of areas that we need to cover between [offense], more bullpen. We're just going to explore everything."

Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson and Xander Bogaerts headline the shortstop class, and they will command blockbuster contracts. Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen and Taylor Rogers are among the high-leverage relievers.

Will Jazz Chisholm Jr. stick at second base?
"For now," Ng said.

Chisholm, who came up as a shortstop, only played second (2 DRS, 3 OAA) in 2022 after making 46 appearances at short (-4 DRS, -10 OAA) from '20-21. Shortstop Miguel Rojas is a two-time NL Gold Glove finalist, but his contract expires at the end of the '23 season.

Will the rule changes be something that impacts the markets or what teams are targeting?
"I think the bigger bags will affect that the most [in] the way that a team approaches free agents," Ng said. "The pitch clock, it'll affect obviously play on the field and those types of things, but not necessarily in terms of the way you would construct a roster or approach the free-agent market. Shifts, people will look at it a little bit differently. I think with Jazz at second base, super athletic player, he's got a lot of range. For us, him playing second base without a shift, I think you'll see some more dynamic plays from him."