Jorge Soler often found himself the odd man out in a crowded Cubs outfield, registering just 227 at-bats, down from 366 in 2015. He started to flash some more of the power that scouts fell in love with, raising his isolated power from .137 to .198 while improving his strikeout and walk rates. Injuries have plagued Soler the past couple seasons, as he followed up a pair of DL stints in 2015 with a two-month trip to the DL midseason and a multi-week September absence due to a side injury. However, Soler is still just 24 years old and has enormous power, and after being traded to the Royals for reliever Wade Davis, Soler now has a much clearer path to at-bats at the highest level.
Soler's MRI on Monday revealed he has a Grade 1 oblique strain, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Soler's MRI confirmed what was reported earlier, so the 25-year-old will sit for the next week before slowly being eased back into baseball activities, ensuring that he will miss some time to start the season. His absence could open up a spot for speedster Terrance Gore to make the team as a reserve outfielder, while Paulo Orlando should see the bulk of the time in right field as Soler's primary replacement.
Soler is dealing with a strained oblique and could open the season on the 10-day DL, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. Ticketed for a full-time role in right field entering spring training, Soler struggled through much of Cactus League play prior to suffering the injury, batting just .143 with two homers in 49 at-bats. While the Royals haven't indicated that Soler's injury will put him at risk of a long-term absence, the possibility that he'll miss Opening Day could allow speedster Terrance Gore to make the club as a reserve outfielder. Paulo Orlando can be expected to serve as Soler's primary replacement for however long he's sidelined.
Soler went 0-for-2 against the Cubs on Wednesday and is now 0-for-8 with two walks through four spring games. "They're just getting their timing down," manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star. "I don't really think too much about it until about the halfway point." Soler's getting a chance to sit back and observe Thursday, with Alex Gordon taking over in right field and Brandon Moss in left. He was hit by a pitch on the shoulder in his first at-bat against his former team Wednesday, but Soler stayed in the game and there has been nothing to suggest his absence Thursday is related. The 25-year-old Soler is expected to open the season in an everyday role after coming over from Chicago in a December trade, playing primarily in right field but perhaps seeing occasional time in left.
Soler was traded to the Royals on Wednesday in exchange for Wade Davis, MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan reports. Of the Cubs' young hitters, Soler was the most likely to be moved this winter, as he would have struggled to see the field, and may have been confined to a role as a lefty-mashing bench bat, given the team's other options. In Kansas City, however, he figures to be the everyday right fielder, and could bat as high as fourth or fifth in the lineup. He has a career .258/.328/.434 slash line and 27.6 percent strikeout rate, but there is still considerable room for growth entering his age-25 season. He has plus power and could hit 25-plus homers if he can stay healthy, although the transition to the American League could lead to a bit of a learning curve initially.
Soler will be traded to the Royals on Wednesday in exchange for Wade Davis, provided both players pass their physicals, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Due to the Cubs' surplus of outfield bats, Soler wouldn't have had an everyday role had he remained with the team to begin 2017, but the move to the Royals will significantly improve his outlook. Soler should be the leading candidate to play regularly in right field, with Lorenzo Cain shifting over to center field to clear room for him. While Soler hasn't lived up to expectation through his first three MLB seasons, he's still just 24 years old and carries plenty of pop in his bat. The opportunity to see more consistent at-bats with the Royals should give him his best chance to date to unlock some of his immense talent.