As you very well know by now, the Chicago Cubs have traded oft-injured, but naturally-talented outfielder, Jorge Soler, to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for the sometimes-injured, but supremely-dominant closer, Wade Davis.
Since the trade went down, fans and pundits from both sides seem to think their respective team is being ripped off OR doing the ripping … so, that probably means it’s a pretty fair trade.
Of course, given the likely competitiveness of the Cubs’ 2017 season and the raw potential lurking in Soler’s bat, it’s not really an easy one to call right now. In fact, it might not even be an easy one to call in the future (if Soler becomes an All-Star for the next four years, but the Cubs win another World Series closed out by Davis … who won the trade?).
But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to break this baby down. So let’s take a look at some of the initial notes, analyses, stories, and takes from the Cubs’ trade of Jorge Soler for Wade Davis. (Brett’s take is here, if you missed it during the busy week.)
- Apparently, this winter wasn’t the first time the Cubs checked in on Davis. Indeed, according to Patrick Mooney on Twitter, the Cubs asked the Royals about Davis at the trade deadline, just before acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees. Why did those talks break down, do you ask? Well, the Royals, like others at the time, reportedly asked for Kyle Schwarber in return, to which the Cubs (thankfully) said nah. Given how Schwarber looked in the World Series and the injuries Davis sustained thereafter, the Cubs clearly went a better route.
- GM Jed Hoyer joined MLB Tonight from the Winter Meetings to discuss the trade in person:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 8, 2016
- Nothing too surprising in Hoyer’s comments. I’d agree that the pressure on the Cubs’ front office is greatly diminished given the Cubs World Series victory, but I also agree that this is probably a move they would have made win or lose. They needed a dominant arm in the back of the bullpen, and the options to pay in big money or in big Cuban outfielders didn’t change. The Cubs chose the latter and here we are.
- This is the Soler tweet referenced at the beginning of the video, by the way, as he cleans out his locker and thanks the fans:
— Jorge Soler (@JorgeSoler12) December 7, 2016
- As usual, Hoyer continues to suggest that the Cubs will add more in the bullpen and rotation, but a majority of those additions will come in the form of depth, which he believes is undervalued in the game of baseball. To that end, the Cubs are close to a deal with reliever Koji Uehara.
- At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron writes about how the Soler-Davis swap was a win-win for both teams. From the Cubs’ perspective, Cameron suggests that they were able to get a dominant closer (possibly one of the best in the game) for a player who had no real spot on the team. Even if Javy Baez doesn’t take another step forward at second base, the Cubs outfield is mostly full with Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., Jon Jay, and Matt Szczur. If Baez does step up, however, you’re adding Ben Zobrist’s bat into the outfield alignment on a more regular basis, and Soler’s position and at-bats would really come into question. For what it’s worth, Cameron points out that Davis has had the lowest wOBA against among ALL relievers in MLB from 2014 through 2016. He is really, really, good.
- As you should know, Davis was twice on the disabled list last season flexor/forearm issues, but the Cubs traded for him anyway. At CSN Chicago, Patrick Mooney gets into what made the Cubs so confident about Davis, and Theo Epstein wraps it up nicely: “There’s nothing more we can do. At this point, we’ve pored through the medical extensively. We’ve seen all the MRIs. We’ve physically examined him ourselves.” It’s true. There isn’t much more you can do than that, and, to be fair, that is doing a lot. If you find it unusual that the Royals allowed the Cubs to examine Davis before the trade went through, that’s because it is not typically done in trades. That should provide you a little more encouragement on the Cubs’ end of the deal.
- But the background work didn’t start and end there. Because the Cubs were interested in trading for Davis at the deadline, they had already done a ton of work on him in the first half of the season. And then, after Davis was injured again, the Cubs tracked him even closer, examining every single pitch he’d thrown, and even the way he’d walk off the field after every outing. If there’s one thing this front office cannot be criticized for, it’s a lack of thoroughness.
- Keith Law also believes the one-for-one Major League player swap was a win-win for the Cubs and Royals. The Cubs are now able to stay out of the ridiculously priced free-agent closer market (Aroldis Chapman got $86 million over five years) and they bought themselves time to reevaluate internal options for 2018, like Carl Edwards Jr. The Royals get four cost-controlled years of an (already) above average Major League bat, and that’s especially important for small market teams, according to Law. Of course, then, the Cubs get a dominant closer during an expectedly competitive season, and the Royals get the upside we all know about in Soler’s bat. To be honest, the more I let this trade settle in my head, the more I think it was a relatively fair swap.
- Wade Davis throws a particularly nasty cutter-slider-type-pitch:
New Chicago Cubs pitcher Wade Davis can do this. pic.twitter.com/FqGIVLFTlN
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) December 7, 2016
- And finally, the Cubs weren’t alone in their pursuit of Davis, as Rob Bradford reports that the Boston Red Sox were also hot on the trail. Apparently, the Royals preferred the Cubs’ offer of Soler over the Red Sox offer of Travis Shaw, and the rest is history. Travis Shaw was later traded to the Brewers (along with two other prospects) for reliever Tyler Thornburg on the same day the Red Sox were negotiating their Chris Sale trade with the White Sox. This is a perfect example of how multiple pieces can be so intertwined.
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