A few days ago, I wrote about how the Chicago Cubs were considering a range of relievers in trade this offseason, including Alex Colome, A.J. Ramos, and Wade Davis. It’s Davis’ name, however, that has officially come up first from a non-Cubs source.
According to Jon Morosi, the Chicago Cubs have been among the teams reaching out to the Kansas City Royals about their incumbent closer:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 5, 2016
Davis, you’ll recall, is the Royals’ 31-year-old closer, who finished the 2016 season with another sub-2.00 ERA (1.87) and 1.3 fWAR. Earlier this offseason, the Royals exercised his $10 million option for 2017 (his final year under contract. Here’s what I had to say just three days ago:
Wade Davis (and the rest of the relievers on this short list), unlike Holland, is still under contract with the Kansas City Royals for $10 million in 2017. After converting into a reliever full-time in 2014, Davis has posted a sparkling 1.18 ERA (1.86 FIP), a 33.1% strikeout rate, an 8.4% walk rate and 6.4 fWAR in three seasons (he’s also a two-time all-star and finished top 8 in the AL Cy Young voting twice during that stretch). The 2016 season – a year in which he finished with a sub-2.00 ERA – was actually the worst of his full-time reliever seasons. He’s good, do you get it?
Davis is undoubtedly one of the best closers in the game, likely settling in just under that super elite tier of Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, etc. (but only just). Even though he has just one year remaining on his deal, that year happens to coincide with a particularly competitive-looking (on paper) season for the Cubs. It also happens to be, as you well know by now, a season after which they could lose a number of key players to free agency (Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Pedro Strop among them). In that regard, targeting closers (even ones with just one year left) makes plenty of sense.
But at what cost? Well, one writer has an idea, and you might not like it.
That’s where Rustin Dodd comes in:
Cubs have interest in Wade Davis, per @jonmorosi. Jorge Soler could be name to watch. Cuban outfielder owed less than $18 million thru '20.
— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) December 5, 2016
If your first instinct is anything like mine, you’re probably concerned that four cost-controlled seasons of Jorge Soler sounds like too much to give up for one year of a closer, even a dominant one like Wade Davis. I’d say you’re probably right.
Although Davis is truly quite awesome, he did twice miss time with a forearm strain last year. And although his $10 million salary in 2016 is well below his market price, it’s not exactly dirt cheap, either.
So, while it’s perfectly conceivable to believe that Jorge Soler could be involved in a deal with the Royals (there does seem to be a fit, particularly given their American League home), Davis alone does seem like a light return.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this, like the many other things bustling about this week.
UPDATE via Brett: Ken Rosenthal not only concurs with Morosi, but he hears the Cubs are “serious”:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2016
The fit is obvious, as Michael noted, so this makes sense. How and whether Jorge Soler fits into this equation remains to be seen (Davis and a fringy/upside AAA-ish starting pitcher? Maybe a touch better than that? I could see something there). I will say that it’s interesting that this came out around the same time:
Rangers interested in Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, the right-handed bat people say will come in the form of Encarnacion, Trumbo or Napoli
— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) December 5, 2016
Are the Cubs doing some market building, by chance? Or a team that genuinely wants Soler and suspects him to be available reaching out to the Cubs? It’s not as if we’re the only ones who believe in Soler’s offensive upside.
We’ll keep following along …