The Wade Davis trade has finally happened, netting the Royals outfielder Jorge Soler from the Cubs. The move saves the Royals about $6.5 million in salary next year while giving them control of an outfielder with power potential for four more seasons. On the other hand, it depletes the bullpen in a season in which they were hoping to compete and Soler has not exactly set the world on fire in parts of two seasons.
Dayton Moore loves Jorge’s power potential.
We obviously love his upside, love his power. Like the fact that we have some control for the next four years, potential right fielder as you know, we have several players that are perhaps, you know, entering free agency after the 2017 season.
So this was an important deal for us, a tough deal, trading an All-Star closer in Wade Davis, somebody who has been just so instrumental to our success. We certainly wouldn't have been able to win and win a World Series without Wade. But the fact that we have the DH, we can utilize him in both spots.
Rany Jazayerli is sad to see Wade go.
I understand trading Davis now, and I think Soler is a good return for a team still trying to win. Doesn't make it easier to say goodbye.— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) December 7, 2016
As is Kelvin Herrera.
Jon Heyman likes it for the Royals.
Soler brings big-time power potential and four years of control to kc. Like it!— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 7, 2016
Jorge is ready for Kansas City.
Kansas City... are you ready? I am! Can't wait for Spring Training. Let's do this Royals fans! #SolerPower— Jorge Soler (@JorgeSoler68) December 7, 2016
Former scout Bernie Pleskoff likes Soler’s upside.
It's just a matter of time before guys like Soler and Sano figure it out. When they do-watch out. Soler-huge power upside. KC tough HR park.— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) December 7, 2016
Are fans on both sides upset with the deal?
Royals fans think they didn't get enough for Wade Davis. Cubs fans think they didn't get enough for Jorge Soler.— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) December 8, 2016
Michael Baumann at The Ringer thinks the Cubs won the deal.
Since 2000, 80 corner outfielders aged 25 or younger have amassed 500 plate appearances through their first three seasons. Soler is tied for 37th in OPS+, with Wil Myers and Travis Buck, if you needed a clear indicator of the two paths his career could take. And that’s just factoring in Soler’s bat, which is his primary asset as a player. If you sort by WAR, he’s tied for 59th with Dayan Viciedo. Take out a 97-plate-appearance cameo in 2014, in which Soler slugged .573 while not playing enough defense to do any damage, and he’s been about replacement-level over the past two seasons. As a fourth outfielder and a scary guy to bring off the bench with men on, Soler’s just fine, but he’s had two and a half years to prove he’s the impact hitter the Cubs paid for, and he’s been outhit by Yangervis Solarte.
Keith Law at ESPN thinks likes the return of Soler, despite some flaws to his game.
His main issue at the plate has been hitting the ball on the ground too often, surprising given his bat path but more a result of poor pitch selection than mechanics. If his second half of 2016 is all Soler is, he’s still a valuable asset for the Royals, with four years of control remaining for a good every-day player, and given his bat speed and flashes of big exit velocity, I’m optimistic that there’s more production here going forward. I’m more concerned about his glove than his bat. Soler is a bad right fielder, for no readily apparent reason, and there isn’t any specific cause for optimism that he’ll become a good one. He’s certainly athletic enough to handle either corner, but his reads on balls hit to him are not good and he hasn’t improved with experience yet.
The Royals must like Soler, as I do, to choose to make him the entire return for Davis, rather than diversifying the portfolio so that they reduce the chances of getting nothing in the long term from trading such a valuable asset. They do have the DH spot open for him if his right-field defense can’t get to average, and I think the floor here is fairly high -- if he’s healthy, he’s probably a 2-plus win player without any progress at the plate.
Dave Cameron at Fangraphs writes this is a risk worth taking for the Royals.
The reality is the market pays for Soler’s current skillset, more than it probably should. So even if he never really takes the leap, the Royals could likely increase his value simply by getting him in the line-up everyday next year. If he’s healthy enough to hold down a regular job, and he hits 25 or 30 home runs, Soler’s value will go up simply because he’ll be a proven power hitter at that point.
So the Royals turned a high-risk reliever they can replace with a guy whose value has plenty of room to go up. And that’s assuming there’s no huge breakout. If he takes a leap forward and turns himself into, say, Justin Upton, well then the Royals will have picked up a potential All-Star for one year of a reliever with a bad elbow.
Of course, there’s the chance that he’s just Yasmany Tomas instead. Maybe Soler continues to show that the defense is a legitimate problem in the outfield, and the power isn’t enough to offset the contact issues, making him a league average hitter. It’s not like this is a risk-free acquisition, and if the Royals trade Jarrod Dysonaway and give his playing time to Soler, only to see him be a +0 to +1 WAR player, they’ll be worse off in 2017, even without accounting for the loss of Davis in the bullpen.
Sam Mellinger writes the move was necessary given the payroll constraints.
Soler has rare power, and he takes walks. Even if he does not progress in 2017, he should provide the Royals with some moments of easy run production. He is the kind of talent the Royals can’t easily afford on the open market, and if he takes the step forward that many scouts predict, he could be the franchise’s best power hitter in years. Steve Balboni’s record for home runs in a season, 36, could be in play.
If Moore is able to use the payroll savings on, say, a low-risk starting pitcher — like the lottery ticket they hit with Chris Young in 2015 — then this could be a major improvement to both 2017 and beyond.
David Lesky at Baseball Prospectus Kansas City thinks the time was right for a trade, but this wasn’t it.
Personally, I think the return of Soler alone for Davis isn’t enough. I think Davis is in the conversation with Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and both brought back more. By the same token, both were traded mid-season when demand is different and other options were not present in exchange for money and no prospects. I also understand the injury risk that Davis brings to the table and maybe the medicals aren’t as rosy as the Royals would have liked you to believe. I don’t hate the deal because I like Soler enough, but based on what we know, it seems as though the Royals should have netted a better return.
Ryan Davis at Fanrag thinks the return was a bit light for the Royals.
Soler will play next season at the age of 25 and has four more years of control, which are all good things for Kansas City. But considering the level of prospects that the Yankees got from the Cubs last July in exchange for a few months of Chapman, a similarly dominating reliever, only surrendering Soler in this deal is a massive win for the Cubs.
Chris Rose and Kevin Millar discuss the deal on MLB Network.
You’ve had more time to digest the trade. What do you think?