After multiple injury-plagued seasons, Jorge Soler was finally able to put together a record-breaking season for the Kansas City Royals.
When the Royals traded closer Wade Davis for Jorge Soler, it was expected that great things would come from him. Unfortunately, what initially came from the trade was an injury plagued player who may not factor into the future lineup for Kansas City.
Soler thankfully shut the door on any doubt in his ability to play during the 2019 season. Soler tied for first in the American League in strikeouts (178) but Royals fans can look past that as he also led the league in home runs (48), breaking the Royals’ previous single-season record of 38. In breaking this record, Soler also became the first Royal in history to lead the league in home runs.
The 27-year old put together a career year and along with smacking the ball into the stands, he stayed healthy and played in all 162 regular-season games, an accomplishment for any player. Unsurprisingly, Soler was nominated for the Hank Aaron Award, which is given to the best hitter in each league.
When asked, teammate Brett Phillips was happy to sing praise to Soler.
"Honestly, it’s breathtaking. It’s exciting to be on this bench and watching him swing as hard as he does…It’s unbelievable to see how far the ball goes off the bat. It’s been exciting and it’s been awesome to be a part of."
The decision to be made now is whether or not Soler is part of the future for the rebuilding Royals. Soler found himself near the top of the league in not only home runs but walks and RBI’s as well. He could bring decent prospects in return for a trade, though due to his history with injuries, teams could be wary of picking up a player who may not be able to provide the desired returns.
The biggest fear for many teams, including the Royals, may be whether Soler can continue to improve as a player and repeat his most recent offensive success. In 2018, Soler played in 61 games, and in 2017 even less at 35. While this is mostly due to injury, this creates a sample that is fairly small when trying to determine the success a player might have two or three years down the road.
Soler is also, at least at the moment, almost purely a designated hitter which could make the market even smaller. Soler has made decent plays when playing in right field, but his lack of time in the outfield and his .971 fielding percentage in 2019 might be enough to keep teams looking for more rounded players.
Pending a high return in the trade market, it may be best for the Royals to hold onto the 27-year-old slugger. Soon, the Royals will have plenty of minor league arms ready for the majors and hopes of the postseason will start to rise. While it is unlike the Royals to hold onto a home run hitting designated hitter, preferring speed and defense, it might be time for the back to back 100 loss club to start trying some new tactics.