I’ll admit, the Chicago Cubs Theo Epstein has made some questionable trades. And it might not be the trade you were thinking. No, the White Sox trade isn’t it. It was Wade Davis for Jorge Soler, and it was highway robbery.
The Chicago Cubs were fresh off a World Series Championship. They were riding high on their victory in Game 7, and expectations were lofty. They lost their closer from last season in Aroldis Chapman–who they expected not to sign with them. So they made a trade: Wade Davis, an accomplished closer who was coming off of back-to-back All-Star seasons for Jorge Soler.
What we did know. Davis was an established closer who saved 44-of-48 opportunities in the last two years with a 1.30 ERA combined. And he did not disappoint in 2017, saving 32-of-33 opportunities with a 2.30 ERA. The Cubs made it back to the NLCS but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We got one year of Davis as he was a free agent and he was going to demand more money than the Cubs were willing to spend. They let him walk, and with the Colorado Rockies in 2018 he saved a career-high 42 games. This season he’s struggled to a 7.87 ERA with just 15 saves. Needless to say, the Cubs were pleased to avoid him. Brandon Morrow is a different topic for a different day. Ugh.
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What we knew about Soler. He had power but in flashes. He took awkward routes to the ball but had a cannon for an arm. The thing is, he didn’t have a position. During the offseason, Jason Heyward signed a big contract and Soler was the odd man out. Aside from that, Kyle Schwarber was going to take over left field after being injured in the first series of the season. In short, Soler was expendable for a closer, and they made a move.
If the Cubs knew then what they know now? They would never have made the trade. But that’s hindsight, and that’s baseball.
Soler suffered some injuries in Kansas City, which is why his stats are awe-inspiring the first two years with the Royals. He had an oblique injury which held him out the first 132 games. Then in his second year with the Royals, he had a broken metatarsal in his foot which ended his season after 61 games. He’s now healthy, and Chicago Cubs fans are left sad.
Soler’s average doesn’t look great at .257. But consider the player they ‘replaced’ him with, Heyward, is hitting .256. And the numbers don’t match-up after that. He’s slashing .257/.348/.557 with a .905 OPS. He still strikes out a lot, a league-leading 161 times. However, he’s hit 44 big flies and knocked in 107.
Honestly, we’ve traded a year for a year, with one more coming from Soler. The two injury-prone seasons don’t count. If it weren’t for the foot injury, Soler likely would have had a solid season. But injuries are part of the landscape. You never know when they’ll strike. Consider Christian Yelich. I’m sure he wasn’t planning on getting injured. Baseball is gonna baseball.