Recent Giants moves have Blue Jays ties in more ways than one

How does the recent signing of Jorge Soler affect the Blue Jays?

Soler taking BP in Giant's Spring Training camp
Soler taking BP in Giant's Spring Training camp / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages
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The San Francisco Giants made a recent offensive splash, signing 2022 World-Series MVP Jorge Soler. Soler is a great add for the Giants, as he brings big home run power and strong platoon splits against LHP. Although the Blue Jays were reported to be in on him, his recent signing with the Giants still provides the Jays with interesting roster opportunities as they approach Opening Day.

Austin Slater (and Santiago Espinal)

Soler's recent signing, along with 2022 KBO MVP Jung-hoo Lee, means the Giants prioritized building a strong outfield tandem this offseason.

Having already traded Mitch Haniger to the Mariners, the addition of Soler may mean the Giants are looking to offload another outfielder: enter Austin Slater.

Slater came up with the Giants in 2017 and has mainly assumed a fourth-outfielder role since. While Slater hasn't displayed starter potential quite yet, he's been very serviceable. In 2023, Slater slashed a respectable .270/.348/.400 with 5 homers, good for an OPS+ of 107. Slater also has very strong platoon stats, hitting for a .824 OPS and .800 OPS against LHP in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Defensively, while he is no Kevin Kiermaier, he is decently average, with 2 OAA in 2022 and 1 OAA the year later.

The Blue Jays should look to trade for Slater. The Jays outfield, as it currently stands, consists of Daulton Varsho, Kiermaier and George Springer. While all three players bring their positive attributes, Slater's profile as a player would fit well in the current OF tandem. While Springer has relatively good numbers against LHP, Varsho and Kiermaier struggle immensely, both with career OPS' under .670 against lefties. Slater, with strong numbers against LHP, could help offset this discrepancy. With Varsho and Kiermaier already providing huge defensive value, bringing in Slater would create a very strong, balanced outfield for the Blue Jays.

But what would he cost?

Slater, a fourth outfielder, shouldn't cost the Jays too much in a trade scenario. As reported by Jeff Young of FanSided, the Giants are looking to build stronger shortstop depth.

Santiago Espinal, although coming off of a poor 2023, possesses many qualities that could be appealing to the Giants. Like Slater, Espinal hits lefties quite well, with a career AVG over .300 against LHP. Espinal is also a very solid, versatile defender. Although he spent most of his time at 2B in 2023, Espinal can play anywhere in the infield. He has a career 6 DRS at third base, 6 OAA at second and has logged over 300 innings at SS. Considering the Blue Jays already have an abundance of IF depth (especially after signing Justin Turner and Isiah Kiner-Falefa), a trade surrounding Espinal and Slater would make sense for both teams.

Free Agency

With the Giants making a significant splash on Soler, one could only wonder how the signing affects the Giants' bidding on other big-name free agents. One must imagine the Giants would pass on Cody Bellinger, as he is seeking a contract that would make him part of a starting core. Bellinger would be a good addition to the Jays, even after having re-signed Kiermaier. Bellinger had an excellent bounce-back season in 2023, finishing with a Silver Slugger award and a top-10 NL MVP finish. He would provide the Jays with left-handed power and strong defence. With teams quickly approaching Opening Day, the Soler signing might signal the Blue Jays to make a big push for Bellinger.