The Cubs agreed to send Jorge Soler to the Royals in exchange for closer Wade Davis. Who is better off with their new team, from a fantasy baseball view?
The Chicago Cubs went a different route to acquiring a top-tier closer. Instead of spending an insane amount of money on one of the free agents, the front office traded an expendable outfielder for a closer. The team traded Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for Wade Davis. Will one or both players have good fantasy baseball seasons next year?
Let’s start with the Cubs and how we got to this point.
Chicago began the 2016 season with Hector Rondon as the closer. But, when the New York Yankees decided to sell everyone, the Cubs jumped on board and traded prospects for half of a season of Aroldis Chapman.
Now, Chapman is (still) a free agent and there is a void in the Cubs bullpen. They could have went back to Rondon, but after winning the World Series, you can’t go backwards.
So, the Cubs found a suitable partner in Kansas City and acquired Wade Davis, and didn’t have t give up much in the process.
Davis got the opportunity to close after Greg Holland went down with an injury in 2015. He recorded 17 saves and an 8-1 record with a 0.94 ERA and 0.787 WHIP in 67.1 innings.
This past season, he had 27 saves with a 1.87 ERA, 1.131 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. He did miss some time due to two stints on the disabled list. His fastball also dropped almost one MPH.
Moving to the National League could increase Davis’ value. While he won’t be facing many pitchers, the NL Central didn’t have the scariest of offenses. The Pittsburgh Pirates ranked the highest in batting average, 12th, and the St. Louis Cardinals were fourth in runs scored.
The Royals look to be still contending while rebuilding in the process. This could make for some good opportunities for the younger players. Speaking of younger players, Soler has a better shot at playing everyday.
In Chicago, Soler was blocked by Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, recently signed Jon Jay and a couple of other names. Now, it’s not as crowded. The Royals have a platoon of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in right field. Dyson is a free agent next season and has a been a topic of trade rumors during the Winter Meetings. So, a starting job may be opening up soon.
Despite the limited playing time, Soler displayed great power. He hit 12 home runs and 31 RBI win 86 games. He did only hit .238, but posted a .333 OBP. Average that over a full season and it becomes 21 home runs, 75 RBI and a .258/.328/.434 line.
After losing Kendrys Morales to the Toronto Blue Jays, adding a potential 20-home run hitter to the lineup is a good idea. Speaking of Morales, the DH spot is open, so Soler could even fill in there if Dyson isn’t traded by Opening Day. As long as he gets consistent at bats, his value will rise greatly in drafts.
With Davis pitching elsewhere, Kelvin Herrera is the future closer. In 72 games last season, he had a 2.75 ERA, 0.958 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and 12 saves. He will a closer fantasy owners target later in drafts. He ranks just outside my top-10 closers, but could move up by March.
Looking at both sides, this seems to be a fair trade for real and fantasy baseball. The Cubs gain a top-10 closer in Davis, Herrera gets a boost in value by taking over the job in KC and Soler may get regular at bats for the first time in his young career.