Chicago Cubs: Jorge Soler hitting his stride with the Royals

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Hindsight is always 20/20, especially when the Chicago Cubs make a trade. The team needed a closer, so they traded Jorge Soler for Wade Davis. In hindsight? Not so good.

After the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016, they bid adieu to their closer, Aroldis Chapman. He served his purpose, and to be honest? Manager Joe Maddon emptied the tank on Chapman, and he likely was going to be burned out to start the next season. So the Cubs went out and acquired Wade Davis, a two-time All-Star in Kansas City for Jorge Soler.

The call was right on Chapman. He had a 3.22 ERA, his highest since 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds. He saved 22 of 26 games for the Yankees that year and just wasn’t the same pitcher. However, he’s returned to All-Star form, literally, making the last two AL All-Star teams. He saved 32 games in 2018 and currently leads the majors with 34 saves.

The choice to trade for Davis was the right one, as well. He converted on 32 of 33 save opportunities with a 2.30 ERA. He helped the Cubs reach the NLCS, where they fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. The Cubs anticipated Davis would want a hefty contract and decided to look elsewhere, eventually landing on Brandon Morrow. Well, you see how that’s worked out.

The issue was this trade was Jorge Soler. We traded one year of Davis for five years of control for Soler. And in that first year in Kansas City, Soler struggled. He dealt with an oblique injury and was limited to just 35 games batting a pitiful .144. In 2018, Soler suffered a left foot fracture and his season was over on June 15. In 61 games, he had a slash line of .265/.354/.466 and a .820 OPS.

This season he’s healthy, and he’s reaching his potential. He’s played in every game for the Royals, piling on some big numbers.

Soler is second in the league behind Mike Trout with 35 home runs. He’s ninth in slugging at a .556 clip and is fifth in the AL with 85 RBI. And he’s seventh in the league in total bases with 245.

When we traded Gleyber Torres, Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez, we thought they would be good. But they were still low-level minor league players, and they weren’t ready. They are now, but not back then.

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Soler was signed to a nine-year, $30 million contract. He was raw, struck out a lot. But the 6-4, 280 pound Soler was a massive human being, and that’s a steal of a deal. And he looked capable of doing, well, precisely what he’s doing this year.

When the Cubs signed Jason Heyward, Soler was bound to be the fourth man in the outfield rotation. The Cubs were high on Albert Almora over Soler and made a deal for the latter. Talking about hindsight? The Chicago Cubs need to stop talking about hindsight and have some foresight.