The KC Royals must have really liked Jorge Soler. Kansas City reportedly turned down a strong offer from the Boston Red Sox for Wade Davis before dealing with the Cubs.
Rob Bradford of WEEI FM 93.6 in Boston reported that the Red Sox dangled a package built around infielder Travis Shaw for Kansas City Royals closer Wade Davis. After general manager Dayton Moore chose Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, Boston landed Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers in exchange for Shaw, plus 2B/SS Mauricio Dubon and P Josh Pennington.
Presumably, the Red Sox offered at least the same package for Davis. I suspect the Royals could have demanded better prospects than Dubon and Pennington had they cut a deal with the Red Sox.
Bradford claimed that the Kansas City Royals preferred Soler to Shaw, which somewhat explains Dayton Moore’s comment that he’d rather get the player he wanted over a multitude of options that might become something useful.
Shaw is two years older (26) than Jorge Soler (24) and is a 1B/3B. Given that Kansas City now has a glut of third basemen, Soler is a better fit. While Shaw and Soler appear to have similar career slash lines (.258/.328/.434 for Soler and .251/.312/.421 for Shaw), the KC Royals apparently believe Soler possesses more upside. One reason is that many scouts contend that Soler has untapped power potential.
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That assessment makes sense with respect to their prospect pedigrees. Shaw is a former 11th round draft pick in 2011. He was never considered a top 100 prospect by any publication. Meanwhile, the Cubs signed Soler to a nine-year, $30 million deal as a 20-year-old refugee from Cuba. Baseball America rated Soler the 12th best prospect in 2015, while MLB.com had him at #22 and Baseball Prospectus ranked him #19.
However, Shaw bats left-handed—which would have given the Royals four lefties to match with their five right-handed position players in the KC lineup. Of course, most of Kansas City’s thump comes from the left side in Hosmer, Gordon, and Moustakas. Soler’s right handed power bat gives the Royals more pop from the right side of the plate.
That’s leaving out Dubon and Pennington from the equation. While no major site rated either of these players among the top 100 prospects in the game, or even among the top 30 prospects in the Red Sox system, both have performed well in the minors. Dubon is a 22-year-old middle infielder who slashed an impressive .339/.371/.538 at AA last season. Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Pennington posted a 2.86 ERA and 7.8 K/9 at single A in 2016.
Also, we have no idea what the Dodgers or Nationals might have offered Kansas City. But, both were said to be bidding on Davis. I’d have to think they offered attractive packages.
The bottom line is that the KC Royals scouting department must really like Soler’s upside. This evaluation seems consistent with this tweet from Flanagan:
For better or worse, Jorge Soler is now a Kansas City Royal. Let’s hope the regular at bats that he couldn’t get in Chicago will help him unlock his prodigious potential.