The Chicago Cubs have agreed to trade OF Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Wade Davis. The rumors that started to kick up late on Monday and continued into today at the Baseball Winter Meetings have finally come to fruition. There was a lot of activity around the possibility of a trade late yesterday but the hold-up was the pending physicals, which have now been signed off on.
In Jorge Soler, the Cubs always felt they had someone with enormous upside potential but he never could find a full-time spot on the team. Part of the reason was the Cubs crowded outfield, especially after Dexter Fowler surprised us all by returning to the Cubs in spring training of last year. The other side of the equation was that even when Soler did get his chances he either struggled to control his approach at the plate or fell prey to injury, as was the case last year.
Soler, who started to swing the bat very well in late may and early June of 2016, was injured on June 6th. He was out for two months in the middle of the season and when he returned it was an even more complicated situation in the outfield because his replacement, Albert Almora, had been playing well in his stead. Soler was a constant case of being down and then being up, with no real consistency.
Wade Davis (age 31) comes to the Cubs from the Royals as a converted starter who helped push their bullpen over the top, leading to two consecutive World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015. Since being moved to the bullpen, he’s posted a 1.18 ERA from 2014 through 2016, allowing a minuscule 24 earned runs over 182.2 innings pitched.
Where there was concern regarding Davis is his injury history, namely the two injuries that he sustained in 2016. He first hit the disabled list in early July with a forearm strain and then went right back to the DL in late July with a flexor strain, both injuries occurring on his right side. His second half ERA was 3.21 but he had a 1.50/2.93 – FIP/xFIP, so his ERA was clearly impacted by a lack of defensive support which is further bolstered by his .417 BABIP in the second half.
My perspective on the trade
I want to love this trade, I really do.
I know that Soler has had every chance in the world with the Cubs and he has never been able to completely break through. He’s certainly shown signs of being able to reach superstardom someday, but that is the key with him. It’s always been ‘someday.’ I fully accept, and am an advocate of, trading Soler. The Cubs outfield is crowded and Soler has never really fit on this team. But, he has one hell of a team-friendly contract – 4 years left on a $30 million, 9-year contract – and that alone, on a guy with such high-potential upside, carries a lot of value.
Wade Davis has been incredibly successful over the last three years, after being scuttled into the bullpen in 2014. In fact, his ERA from 2014-2016, excluding the second half of 2016, was 1.01. That is stellar and completely out-of-this-world. Looking at the trade from that perspective has me oozing with joy. But.
Davis is 31 and last season he endured not one, but two trips to the DL. His contract expires after 2017. Those two things concern me, a lot. Let’s say Davis gets injured again and spends time on the DL, comes back but is never as dominant as he once was. It’s easy to get there based on 2016 results. Actually, that’s the likely place I get to after sifting through the details. I think it’s much less likely that the Cubs would get a guy who stays completely healthy, has 30+ saves and a sub-two ERA.
Obviously, there’s a lot of upside with both of these players. For Davis, his window is certainly closer to closing then Soler’s. I want this to work, I really do, but I have a lot of doubts that it will. In the end, losing Soler doesn’t hurt the 2017 and beyond Chicago Cubs, so that gives me solace in case this doesn’t work out. I believe in Theo though and, in the end, have to accept that this must be the best move for the Cubs regarding a trade of Jorge Soler.