KC Royals Trades: The jury remains out on this deal

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

On any other day, Jorge Soler would have played a ballgame for the KC Royals. But July 30, 2021, turned into something much different for him.

Moving day.

Hitting just .192 with 13 home runs after playing in every game and shattering Mike Moustakas’ club home run record with 48 only two seasons before, Soler was destined that day to be dealt away before the late afternoon passage of baseball’s trade deadline. He was over half-way through his contract season, Kansas City’s playoff chances had all but vanished, and some contender was bound to find Soler’s prodigious power irresistible.

The Royals managed to move Soler with only minutes to spare, shipping him to Atlanta for little-known minor league reliever Kasey Kalich…and no one else.

The move to Atlanta suited Soler—after joining the Braves the next day, he burned through National League pitching by clubbing 14 homers, driving in 33 runs and hitting .269 with a .358 OBP and .128 OPS+. And to top the year off, he hit .300 with three homers in the World Series and was named Series MVP.

What happened, though, to Kasey Kalich?

Kasey Kalich didn’t set the world on fire after coming to the KC Royals.

Kalich, the sole return for Kansas City in the Soler deal, was serviceable, but not spectacular, after he joined the organization. He’d been pitching in High-A ball at Rome and was 0-2 with five saves, a 3.26 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 30.1 innings.

The Royals assigned Kalich to Quad Cities, their own High-A affiliate, where he went 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. Those numbers made him 2-4, 3.60 in 34 games.

Although Kalich finished with a nice 10.4 SO9 overall, his control was an issue, at least before the Soler trade: he walked 17 in the 30.1 innings he worked in Rome for a disconcerting 5.0 BB9. Fortunately, his control improved to an acceptable 2.7 BB9 with Quad Cities.

But his control still needs work. His BB9 is 4.3 after two seasons in the minors; he’ll need to get better to seriously contend for a bullpen spot in Kansas City.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Royals aren’t high on Kalich, who turns 24 in April and owns a good 2.89 minor league ERA. They are, and have been since tracking him for the 2019 amateur draft (the Braves snatched him in the fourth round).

Look for the young right-hander to begin 2022 at Quad Cities, or perhaps Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Next. Should KC give Danny Duffy a call?. dark

How did the Jorge Soler-Kasey Kalich deal work out for Kansas City? After just half a season, the jury is still out on Kalich.