It's extremely rare to see a one-for-one deal involving major league talent. It's even more rare that both players involved in the deal go into better situations.
That's exactly what happened Wednesday when the Kansas City Royals traded closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for Jorge Soler. As if that wasn't enough, we also get the bonus of a new elite closer in Kelvin Herrera. Let's start with the parties involved.
Wade Davis only has 47 saves in the last three seasons combined, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more dominant reliever over that time. Last season was the rockiest, but only in a recent past as dominant as his could you consider a 1.87 ERA and nearly 10 K/9 "rocky." More concerning would be the two DL stints, but the Cubs were OK with the medicals, so I'm not going to overthink it.
Davis is one of the best closers in baseball heading to the best team in baseball. In my mind that makes him the No. 1 closer in baseball heading into 2017. The arguments against would include his health and the fact that the Cubs blew so many teams out last season. I don't buy the blowout excuse at all. Even in a weird year like last season, the Cubs had 38 saves on their roster. I'll be shocked if Davis pitches the entire season and doesn't have 40. I won't advocate being the first person in your league to take a closer, but if you are, I'd take Davis.
The increase in Davis' value is negligible because he was already one of the best closers in baseball. For Jorge Soler, this is a whole new lease on life. Soler was buried in Chicago and figured to be a role player who was draftable in NL-only leagues only in 2016. Now he's a starting right fielder, possible middle-of-the-order hitter and a bona fide breakout candidate.
Soler instantly becomes the favorite to lead the Royals in home runs in 2017, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll hit a lot of them. Soler has prodigious power potential, but his development has been slowed by lower body injuries and the Cubs' glut of talent. Soler has also struggled mightily with strikeouts, although he cut his swinging strike rate on pitches out of the zone by more than 10 percent last season.
In three outfielder points leagues, Soler is a late-round reserve pick at the very best with the hope that he develops into a third outfielder in 2017. Even if he does break out, points figure to always be Soler's worst category. In five outfielder Rotisserie leagues, he now profiles as a fifth outfielder who should contribute in HR, RBI and possible runs if he finds himself in the middle of the order.
Kelvin Herrera wasn't involved in the trade, but he may have been the biggest beneficiary. If it wasn't for Herrera's spectacular performance over the past few seasons the Royals may not have had the confidence to trade Davis. As it is, Herrera becomes a borderline top ten closer.
Before you fret too much about Herrera never being a full-time closer, he had a better WHIP and ERA in save situations than otherwise in 2016. Last season was the best year of his career so it shouldn't be too surprising if there is a slight backslide but Herrera can regress a little and remain elite.
Many people have speculated that the new CBA may lead to more trades, and Fantasy owners can only hope they're all like this one with everyone getting a boost in value.