The KC Royals have completed the trade to send closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs in return for 24-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler on Wednesday afternoon.
MLB.com’s Kansas City Royals beat writer Jeffrey Flanagan tweeted out the news:
I must confess, I’m a little taken aback by the one-for-one trade given that the Cubs had to surrender a package of three prospects that included their top prospect in Gleyber Torresfor three months of Aroldis Chapman. However, when you consider that Wade Davis suffered a forearm flexor injury—which often precedes a torn UCL—the disappointing price shouldn’t surprise KC fans.
What Can The KC Royals Expect From Soler?
In the end, the Cuban-born Jorge Soler has proven that he can hit in the big leagues. He’s a career .258/.328/.434 hitter in parts of three seasons with 35 doubles, 27 home runs, and 98 RBIs. Soler is a guy that strikes out more than you’d expect from a Kansas City Royals player with a career 27.6% strikeout rate, but he also draws walks (9.8% walk rate).
The other surprising factor is that he has posted negative Ultimate Zone Ratings (UZR) in each of his three seasons. But, Soler does possess a strong arm that should let him play in right field. Some scouts considered him a guy with true 5-tool potential as a prospect. This suggests he still has untapped upside as a defender.
The Cubs sent Soler to the disabled list three times in the last two seasons while he struggled with an injured hamstring, a strained oblique (shoulder), and a sprained ankle. On one hand, this history points out his limited durability. Soler played no more than 62 games in any minor league season before the Cubs called him up in 2014. However, the leg injuries might also suggest that Soler has more range and speed than he displayed in Chicago.
Scouts also rated Soler’s power tool at 70 on the 20-80 scale.
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Soler Is Valuable Even If He Doesn’t Improve
Aside from Soler’s upside as a slugger, the soon to be 25-year-old is also signed through 2020 at $15 million. For a guy that Fangraphs.com’s Dave Cameron estimates to be worth $40-$50 million on the open market, four years of cost control makes Soler a valuable asset—even if he doesn’t make good on his perceived ceiling.
In the short-term, I’d expect Soler to spend most of his time as the designated hitter in 2017.
With Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson still on the roster, their proven defensive wizardry might keep Soler’s excursions into the field to a minimum. But, Dyson could be on the move according to New York Post sportswriter Joel Sherman. Orlando enjoyed an unusually high .380 BABIP in 2016. His bat could desert him next season if his batted balls stop eluding defenders.
Soler could easily end up patrolling right field in Kauffman Stadium during 2017.
Goodbye, Wade Davis. I’ll never forget your clutch performance against the Blue Jays to steal Game 6. And you closed out the 2015 World Series for Kansas City’s first championship in 30 years. Kansas City Royals fans will miss you.