The Chicago Cubs traded outfielder Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for closer Wade Davis on Wednesday.
The Cubs announced the deal on Twitter by showing their fans a GIF of what Davis' fastball can do to opposing hitters:
Soler offered a farewell to the franchise that gave him his first opportunity to play Major League Baseball:
Joel Sherman of the New York Post pondered which team will look back on its deal with the Cubs for a closer more fondly:
The Cubs needed to do something to address the back of their bullpen with Aroldis Chapman entering free agency. Since it didn't appear as if they were going to spend the money for one of the big closers (Chapman, Kenley Jansen), Davis became an excellent fallback plan for the Cubs.
ESPN's Jesse Rogers likes what the Cubs did with this deal:
This is likely a calculated move by the Royals, with Dave Cameron of FanGraphs writing there are causes for concern with Davis moving forward:
Those DL stints in July were scary, especially because flexor bundle strains often are followed in the not too distant future by the words Dr. James Andrews. Davis’ strikeout rate has gone from 39% to 31% to 27% the last three years, and his wOBA allowed is driven in large part by a complete lack of home runs; he’s only given up three in the last three years, thanks to the lowest HR/FB rate in baseball. Davis has dominated, but especially more recently, it’s been more (Mark) Melancon’s kind of domination than Chapman’s or Jansen’s.
MLB Stat of the Day did counteract some of that skepticism with this nugget about Davis' performance over the previous three seasons:
Soler, 24, hit .238 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI across 86 games this past season. He was sidelined for much of the summer, however, with a hamstring issue.
Even though Soler's tenure with the Cubs didn't go the way anyone hoped it would after he signed with the team out of Cuba in 2012, Christopher Kamka of Comcast SportsNet Chicago did note he bookended things nicely:
The Cubs, even after trading Soler and possibly losing Dexter Fowler in free agency, still have too many outfielders for three spots.
Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant can play left field, but the team also has to get Kyle Schwarber back out there. Albert Almora and Jon Jay could be penciled in for center field, while Jason Heyward is capable of moving over there with Bryant in right, if that's what manager Joe Maddon wants to do.
Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star did note the Royals are now in a similar predicament in terms of having too many outfielders:
MLB.com's Jane Lee reported the Oakland Athletics have had talks with the Royals about Jarrod Dyson, which would take care of Kansas City's issue. The Royals could also use Soler at DH if they wanted to after Kendrys Morales signed with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason.
Soler never lived up to the hype in his three seasons with the Cubs. While he's still young and has a high ceiling, he didn't flash superstar potential in Chicago. He was excellent in the 2015 postseason, however, hitting .474 with three home runs and five RBI in seven games, so Soler could yet become an MLB star.
The Royals will hope the opportunity to provide him more playing time and at-bats will spark that ascension to stardom, especially since they are facing an uncertain future after 2017 with Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain due to become free agents.
Soler gives the Royals some versatility as an outfielder or DH, as well as a tremendously high ceiling for a player who is still young and under team control through 2020. He knows there will be ample playing time for him now to just focus on becoming the hitter he was expected to be in Chicago.
The Cubs did what they could to turn Soler into a star, but they were also in a situation the past two years in which they were winning and needed to put their best team on the field.
Davis gives the Cubs exactly what they need for 2017, and the front office wasn't forced to overspend on a free-agent closer. It's a rare trade that looks smart and necessary from both sides.
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