What would our Spring Training conversations about the outfield look like if the Cubs hadn’t traded Jorge Soler for Wade Davis?
Should Jason Heyward sit for Soler sometimes in right? Can Soler platoon with Kyle Schwarber in left? Will Soler get enough consistent at bats to develop? How will Javy Baez and Ben Zobrist both get consistent playing time if there are so many bodies already filling up left field?
Maybe those questions would have resolved themselves organically, but the reality is that there was probably always going to be an awkward glut – and, because of that development question in there, it wasn’t solely situation where you take the luxury of having great players on your bench, smile, and move on. In terms of value to the 2017 Cubs, trading Soler for Davis was a no-brainer, enormous upgrade for the team. It’s only because of Soler’s potential long-term value (Davis is a free agent after this season) that anyone had even the tiniest shred of doubt about the trade. And since the glut and attendant playing time issues could have further eroded whatever possible long-term value Soler might have, the trade was just one of those “best for everyone” kinds of things. Looking back, I’m glad the move was made.
And I include Soler in that. Although I was always a fan of the obvious talent and projectability, I’d rather see Soler succeed elsewhere than stagnate and disappoint with the Cubs. I’m glad he’s going to get a full and fair shot with another organization.
That organization, of course, is the Royals, whom the Cubs visited yesterday. That provided an opportunity for reporters to get some thoughts from Soler on the trade and his new situation, and he, too, says the trade was the best thing for him (CSN).
With the Royals, Soler figures to play quite a bit in right field (hopefully continuing to develop there), and also periodically DH’ing. The various projection systems all peg Soler for about a league average bat, but I don’t think it would surprise anyone to see him do much better than that.
If he does, it will partly be a credit to his new/old hitting coach, Dale Sveum. Fired by the Cubs as manager in 2013, Sveum didn’t actually get a chance to work too closely with Soler, but the now-Royals-hitting-coach saw plenty of tape when he was with the Cubs. You can read his perspective on Soler then and now here at CSN and here at the Tribune. The potential is all still there, as far as Sveum is concerned, but Soler is not a finished product.
Soler was also asked about Jason McLeod’s Cubs Convention comments about the Cubs pulling Soler from games for lack of hustle, by the way, and although he said that never happened in the big leagues, it did happen in the minor leagues (Tribune).
Shrug. It’s never good when that happens, but I’m also not super interested in getting into another argument about that World Series triple.
I wish Soler very well with the Royals. May he finally make good on the promise of that monstrous offensive upside, and may we forever have arguments about “the time the Cubs traded away a superstar for a reliever.”