At a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Kansas City, the Royals introduced Jorge Soler, the newest member of their organization. The 24-year-old was acquired last week at the Winter Meetings from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for reliever Wade Davis.
Ned Yost and General Manager Dayton Moore stressed the importance of the move for not only 2017, but the future as well. Under club control until 2020, the Cuban-born outfielder has been described as having a very high upside.
What to Expect from Jorge Soler
While it’s nice to hear your front office boast about a new addition, it’s much better to dig into the stats and learn more about a player. With that being said, let’s take a look at what Royals fans can expect from their new right fielder.
Soler’s most widely-discussed tool was his power, something definitely needed with the departure of big bat Kendrys Morales. In a small sample size, Soler has 27 career home runs and last season hit 12 in 227 at-bats. However, power in Wrigley Field might not necessarily translate into power in Kauffman Stadium.
If Royals fans expect Soler to hit 30 home runs with more at-bats, they may be asking just a bit too much. He hit most of those 12 homers while playing his home games in a park where a home run that lands in the first couple of rows is a warning-track out in Kansas City.
In 2016, only three American League teams allowed fewer home runs at home than the Royals, and no team in the AL hit fewer home runs at home. This is one reason why the Royals emphasize plugging the gaps and hitting line drives. Still, the prospect of a power-hitting outfielder has fans reminiscing on the days of Jermaine Dye from 1999-2001.
Upon researching Soler’s defense, it doesn’t take long to find out it’s average at best. He also has trouble running routes to fly balls, something that’s not ideal in a park the size of Kauffman Stadium.
Another thing worth noting is that a few experts believe that Soler has a first-class arm, something that’s largely important because right fielders generally have the longest throw, from right to third base.
After winning the 2015 World Series, the Royals had shown the value of getting the ball in play and forcing the other team to play defense. During that year, Kansas City struck out 973 times, fewer than any other AL team. In 2016, they struck out 1,224 times, losing touch with their formula of putting the ball in play, and it cost them severely.
Soler struck out in 211 of his 682 career at-bats, as power and strikeouts correlate with one another. He certainly wont be a part of the solution to their problem unless there is some improvement in 2017.
For all intents and purposes, Soler appears to be the kind of player the Royals have avoided in the past. For a team that emphasized pitching, defense, and athleticism, it seems counter-intuitive.
But this is the future. It could be the club is interested in him because he has a team-friendly contract. It may also be due to the fact that the club and coaches are convinced they can patch up the flaws in his game. No matter what, it will be interesting to see what kind of player Soler becomes.