Is Jorge Soler’s present value a reason the KC Royals keep playing him?
There probably aren’t many people, including Royals fans, who truly believe Jorge Soler will return to Kansas City next season. Bringing him back doesn’t seem something General Manager Dayton Moore and principal owner John Sherman will place high on their list of 2022 priorities, especially in light of his performance so far this season and the stable of talented young hitters advancing through the organization.
And Soler will surely test the free agent market this fall and winter—after all, he’ll be eligible to shop his services for the first time since becoming a major leaguer, and seeking out a multi-year deal worth more than the $8.05 million he’s being paid this season will be hard for him to resist.
But the Royals probably won’t, and probably shouldn’t, pursue him. No one doubts Kansas City wanted his power most when they sacrificed Wade Davis to get him in the winter of 2016, but subtract the 48 homers he hit in 2019 from his total, and he’s hit just 23 for the Royals. Yes, he’s suffered his share of injuries, but 23 is 23.
Some might say Soler’s .329 overall OBP since becoming a Royal proves he does more than bash baseballs out of ballparks. But .329 is fairly commonplace and in his case encompasses inconsistency—although he posted back-to-back .354’s in 2018 and 2019, and a .326 last season, his OBP was .245 in 2017 and is .263 this year.
So, why doesn’t Moore trade him? The timing, always a key ingredient of successful trades, simply isn’t right. Soler’s miserable season diminishes his trade value. What the KC Royals could get for him today might not be worth it.
Playing his way out of this prolonged slump, though, will increases his value; playing well after that will push it even higher. That’s one reason Moore doesn’t cast him adrift. He wants Soler’s value as high as it can be when the July 30 trade deadline gets close.
And in the meantime, an improved Soler will help the Royals.