Cubs Pay High Price Sending Jorge Soler to Royals for Wade Davis
Quality relief pitchers continue to fetch a high price at the Winter Meetings.
While there are rumors Aroldis Chapman may get the $100 million he's looking for in the free agent market, other franchises are balking at the high financial cost of a top-notch closer and have turned their attention to the trade market. And it appears as though Chapman's former team, the Chicago Cubs, is one of them.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported overnight that Chicago and Kansas City Royals have agreed on a deal to send Wade Davis to the world champs in exchange for young Cuban outfielder, Jorge Soler. Davis would be the Cubs' third closer since the start of last season, following Chapman and Hector Rondon, who opened 2016 as the team's ninth inning man.
Davis has a long track record of regular season and postseason success. He earned his second consecutive All-Star last year with a 1.87 ERA, 2.29 FIP and 27 saves in 41.1 innings. Since converting to being a full-time reliever in 2014, he's pitched to a 1.18 ERA in 182.2 innings of work, averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a 0.892 WHIP.
When healthy, Davis is one of the game's great relief pitchers. But last year, that was an issue.
He spent two different stints on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right forearm, and there were concerns the 31-year-old might require a more serious surgery. However, any fears the Cubs may have had about the reliever's prognosis for 2017 were apparently allayed by his results after returning in September.
Davis proceeded to post an ERA of 2.79, striking out 36.6% of batters he faced in 9.2 innings. His velocity was also back at normal levels, averaging 95-96 mph on his fastball.
That was enough for the Cubs to part with Soler, their 24-year-old outfielder bursting with talent who has yet to put it all together at the Major League level.
The former consensus top-50 prospect had an up-and-down year playing in Chicago's crowded outfield, posting a .238/.333/.436 line in 264 plate appearances, slamming 12 dingers with a wRC+ of 106 and an fWAR of 0.7. But talent lies within him to be one of the game's best power hitters.
And while he doesn't cover the most ground in right field, the kid has a cannon.
There is no doubt Soler has superstar potential, but with the recent addition of center fielder Jon Jay, along with Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. already in the mix, there wasn't room for Soler to play every day. Nevertheless, it is a huge price to pay for Davis, who is a one-year rental and comes with some risk because of his forearm injuries.
It's a huge roll of the dice for Chicago, one they may regret if Soler turns into the superstar people think he can be.