With seemingly every baseball reporter talking about the deal (Andy McCullough apparently first broke the trade), the Royals confirmed in a tweet that they have unloaded Joakim Soria’s contract (never mind that he could reasonably be worth the money, as he was worth 1.7 fWAR in 2017) and lefty reliever Scott Alexander. Alexander will call Dodger Stadium home now, while Soria heads to the South Side of Chicago in a three-team deal.
Coming back to the Royals in the deal are prospects Trevor Oaks and Erick Mejia. A right-handed starting pitcher, Oaks is about to turn 25 but has logged over 145 innings in AAA - Oklahoma City over the past two seasons and is arguably major-league ready. Mejia is a switch-hitting second baseman who spent most of his age-22 campaign in AA - Tulsa.
A ground-ball machine—his 73.8 GB% was the best mark of any pitcher with more than 50 IP in 2017—Alexander is the key loss to the Royals. Alexander has five years of club control remaining and is not arbitration-eligible until 2020. Apparently the cost of moving Soria’s $9MM contract in 2018
and his $1MM buyout on a $10MM club option for 2019 * was Alexander.
*Rustin Dodd tweeted the following regarding money sent in the deal:
The Royals sent along $1 million to Chicago, which ostensibly covers Soria's buyout. They rid themselves of his $9 million salary in the deal.— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) January 5, 2018
For what it’s worth, Oaks is also a groundball pitcher and ranked #14 on MLB Pipeline’s Dodgers prospect list (he also fell in the #11-20 range for Baseball Prospectus). His proximity to the majors is a huge plus for the Royals, whose starting pitching depth is obviously suspect. A seventh-round pick out of California Baptist University in 2014, Oaks gets by on a heavy sinker and changeup, mixing in a fringy slider for his third pitch. An oblique injury forced him to miss some of the 2017 season, but the 6’3” righty has otherwise been a durable starter in his ascent through the minors.
Mejia cannot be found on any of the Dodgers’ top prospect lists, though that isn’t to say he might not find himself amongst the Royals top prospects, as the Royals’ farm is considerably weaker than the Dodgers’ system. Mejia put together a solid 102-game run in Double-A this past season, putting up a 117 wRC+ in 403 PA with a .289/.357/.413 triple-slash with 7 dongs and 25 steals.
Both prospects are at least relatively close and could conceivably contribute this season.
With the Soria contract coming off the books, one can’t help but wonder if the salary due the maligned Royals reliever needed to be unloaded in advance of an Eric Hosmer signing, especially since this is hardly the first time Dayton Moore needed to shed salary prior to signing another player.