It appears as if the Cubs have answered two big questions surrounding Joe Maddon's team this winter.
With so many solid options in the fold to play everyday in the lineup, the Cubs now reportedly have one less guy to worry about in the outfield and one more pitcher to add into the late-inning mix.
USAToday's Bob Nightengale reported late Tuesday night the Cubs and Kansas City Royals had a deal in place with pitcher Wade Davis coming to Chicago and Jorge Soler acting as the return piece, though the deal did not become official until Wednesday afternoon:
It is official. Wade Davis to Cubs for Jorge Soler. #Royals— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) December 7, 2016
As Nightengale also said, the Cubs gave up a lot for Davis, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season and was limited to only 43.1 innings in 2016 due to forearm issues:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 7, 2016
Soler has struggled to stay healthy and cash in on his enormous potential during his two-plus years in the big leagues with the Cubs, but he is still young (he'll turn 25 in February) and won't become a free agent until after the 2020 season.
The main question with Soler entering 2017 was going to be where he would play — and how often — given Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Jon Jay and Albert Almora were already in the outfield mix and the anticipation Ben Zobrist would also see some time in the outfield with Javy Baez locking down second base.
It's no surprise to see Soler dealt this winter, but as David Kaplan said on Tuesday's CubsTalk podcast, Theo Epstein's front office is all about years of control, but if the deal goes through, they will have traded four years of control of a guy who was their top trade chip for only a year of control on a relief pitcher who has averaged only 61 innings per season the last three years.
However, if the 31-year-old Davis is truly the only return, he helps give the Cubs a boost in 2017.
[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]
Davis — who spent the first four years of his big-league career pitching for Maddon in Tampa Bay — has emerged as one of the premier relief pitchers in baseball over the last three years.
In that span, Davis tallied a 19-4 record with 47 saves in 54 chances, a 1.18 ERA and sparkling 0.892 WHIP. He also struck out 234 batters in 182.2 innings while giving up just three homers.
As the Cubs look to defend their first World Series title in more than a century, Davis would help shore up the bullpen and given his past experience, would figure to be able to pitch more than just the ninth inning come playoff time (if healthy). Davis would add another elite option alongside Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. in Maddon's remodeled bullpen.
Soler should benefit from a clear path to consistent playing time with the Royals, especially moving to the American League where he can slot in at designated hitter which may ultimately be his best position.