Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Don't "Wade" Up

Yesterday was the day the hot stove finally exploded - especially if you're a fan of a certain east coast team that sports red socks.  The Chris Sale/Yoan Moncada blockbuster, the Tyler Thornburg trade, the signing of masher Mitch Moreland...  And, in non-Red Sox news, the Rays inked catcher Wilson Ramos to a two-year deal and the Rangers re-signed outfielder Carlos Gomez to a one-year pact.  Obviously, it was a pretty busy day for GM's at baseball's winter meetings.

However, there was one more transaction that started to filter through news outlets yesterday evening and this one involved the team around which this blog is based. It was being reported that the Cubs were closing in on a deal for Royals closer Wade Davis.

The Cubs were never really interested in making Aroldis Chapman the highest paid reliever in history and have only been in the periphery of the race for Kenley Jansen - when it came to shoring up the back end of their bullpen, a trade seemed the most prudent route.  Wade Davis, probably the most attractive arm on the block, had been a long rumored target.

Though the deal appeared imminent, it was indicated that the exchange wouldn't be made official until the next morning, at the earliest (hence the title of this here post.  The hiccup?  Both teams were pouring over the medical records of the players involved, as both have had issues throughout the past few seasons.  We know one of the trade pieces was Davis... who was the other?

The Cubs much-ballyhooed rebuild has been an unprecedented success - producing waves upon waves of young talent.  It's almost a downright miracle that they've hit right on so many prospects; almost all of them have stepped in and produced immediately.  However, though his massive potential is still there, Jorge Soler has been a little bit more of an enigma.

Injuries to his hamstrings have hampered his playing time, as has adjusting to playing in colder weather in Chicago.  He's had flashes of brilliance (his 2014 cuppacoffee, the 2015 Playoffs); but, he's just not been able to find any sort of consistency.  With the Cubs' glut of outfielders, it was going to be tough for him to find the necessary playing time to find his groove.

It definitely hurts to part with Jorge's potentially potent bat, but the Cubs have an embarrassment of riches and it's time to trade some of those assets for other needs.  The departure of Chapman leaves a glaring hole and Wade Davis has the resume to step right in and fill it up. 

Davis has been a key component in the vaunted Kansas City bullpen, the three-pronged weapon employed by Ned Yost to great success during their playoff runs.  Since 2014, his 1.18 ERA is the best of any reliever in baseball and he has twice been named an All-Star.  Furthermore, since Greg Holland (another Cubs target) underwent Tommy John surgery, Davis has posted 44 saves in a year and a half.

The former Rays starter has clearly found his niche in the bullpen.

Davis originally came up with Tampa in 2009

Of course, as I hinted earlier, Wade does not come without some red flags of his own.  The hurler had some arm troubles last season, amounting to two, separate DL trips on the campaign - in both instances, he suffered a forearm strain.  Certainly, the repetitiveness of the issue is cause for concern; though, there was no damage to the ligaments or his elbow and, after he returned for good, he showed none of the velocity loss typically exhibited by future TJ patients.

All appears to be well and, since the Cubs signed off on his medicals, they must see things similarly.  After all, we're not dealing with A.J. Preller and the Padres here - hey oh!

Perhaps Davis will be the man on the mound the NEXT time the Cubs win the World Series?

Meanwhile, I understand why this deal was made and I fully support it - part of me can't help but feel sad.  It feels like Soler has been a part of the Cubs for a lot longer than he has, since he was one of the prospects we pinned all of our hopes and dreams on in the darker times.  Plus, in September of 2014, he was the first of the blue-chippers to be called up during the existence of Wrigley Roster Jenga(I was on hiatus when Alcantara, Baez and Hendricks got the call).  Thus, I feel a twinge of sentimentality with "Soler Power's" departure.

 Jorge during his days as a prospect

Regardless, you can't get quality without giving up quality.  Plus, he'll always be remembered in Chicago for being one of the men who helped end the longest title drought in professional sports.  Here's hoping that Jorge can get his career fully back on track (and stay off of the DL) for the Royals.

Back at the ranch, I was lucky enough to have a few cards of Wade Davis in my trade stacks, ready and waiting to be slipped into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.  I haven't decided which one of the three you see in this post will keep his spot warm until his first Cubs card hits the market, but I generally shy away from horizontal cards, so...

Welcome to the Windy City, Wade - try not to suck!


  1. If this goes through, I think you will see both sides's fans being a little sad about it. The Royals fans LOVE Wade. He's been the most dominant player on our team for the last two years, and we don't get something like that often. When he came into a game, we knew it was over....even if he allowed a baserunner or two, there was no need to worry...he could just strike-out everyone else before those guys scored. Having him will for sure make any team (even the World Champs) better.

  2. Wade Davis is an absolute stud. I would much rather the Cubs have kept Soler as an extra outfielder then have to face Wade in the 9th inning. This trade hurts the Pirates chances of contending. I applaud Theo and company for getting this deal done for the defending champs.

  3. It's nice to have trust in Cubs management isn't it? Looks the the White Sox are trying to emulate them now. Hard to believe that the Blackhawks and Cubs both have front offices the fans support after so many years of the opposite. Hard not to with 4 championships in 7 years.

  4. Sigh. More Durham Bulls players on the Cubs. As a Cardinals fan, who lives down the road from the Bulls, this is beginning to be painful. Montgomery, Zobrist, etc.