What was first being reported yesterday as a possibility, is now a reality. The Kansas City Royals have traded the Cyborg, Wade Davis, to the Chicago Cubs for Right Fielder Jorge Soler.
This is an interesting trade from both sides. Royals Fans were not thrilled at losing one of the most dominant relief pitchers of the last 4 years, and Cubs fans were not keen on giving up on a guy with 30+ homerun potential so quickly. But the move definitely shows the differences philosophies of both teams entering the 2017 season.
The Royals are in a spending freeze/dump after team owner Mr. David Glass claimed the team operated at a loss in 2016. The $148 million dollars the team spent in 2016 would be the max this team would spend going forward. Thus GMDM was tasked with building a contender, without increasing payroll. This is even more of an uphill battle when you realize this sum of money would not include the salaries of veteran starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, and DH Kendrys Morales. Production would have to come from within, or be acquired at the cost of yet another large contract. Which is exactly what we saw today. The sacrifice of a large contract in order to fill a need.
This is nothing new to the Royals. The last three years have been one resurrection project after another, whether it was Chris Young or Ryan Madson with the pitching staff or Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios, the Royals have been finding players that are undervalued and resurrecting their careers. The hope with this trade lies in Soler's age. He is only 24 years old. And will make $17 million over the length of his contract, where Davis was owed $10 Million this year. Worst case scenario would be if Soler were to exercise and opt out clause, and use the arbitration process to determine salary, but he still remains a cost controlled commodity.
This trade free's up some money for this year, and adds a young piece in Right Field that the Royals have been looking to upgrade, for some time. The only problem with it from my point of view is that the Royals success seems to come from it's largest strength, the bullpen. The Royals have dismantled the historically good bullpen that won them two AL Pennants and a World Series. Truly the ony member that remain is Kelvin Herrera. Their is no more, HDH, no more Luke Hochevar, no more Ryan Madson. This bullpen is looking more and more like Peter Moylan, Herrera, and Joakim Soria. This is a far cry from the dominance of 2014 and 2015. This bullpen allowed for late inning comeback that we as Royals fans have become used to. Without that safety blanket, Ned Yost seemed very pedestrian last season, and I feel that will be the downfall of our last season of the 2014-1017 window we were all promised.
The Royals have proven in the past they can make lemonade out of lemons in the bullpen, and with the loss of their most trusted reliever, Dayton and Co. will once again have to find a way.