The Kansas City Royals shook up their bullpen Wednesday after trading All-Star closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for Jorge Soler.  

The Cubs announced the deal after Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported the agreement. Soler took to Twitter after the announcement to thank Chicago’s fans for his time with the club before commenting on his move to Kansas City:

Davis had been an instrumental part of Kansas City’s recent resurgence. He was a middling starter after coming up with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 and during his first year with the Royals in 2013, but a move to the bullpen turned his career around. 

In 2014 to 2015, Davis put up numbers that were as good as any reliever in Major League Baseball over that span. 

He remained strong in 2016 with a 1.87 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings, but his walk rate (3.3 per nine innings) was his highest since 2013. He also had two stints on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right forearm.

The Royals are in a difficult spot heading into 2017. Several core members from the 2015 championship team are entering the final year of their contracts, including Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas. 

Davis was also in that group, but now that he’s gone, it creates financial flexibility for the upcoming season in Kansas City. His contract will pay him $10 million in 2017, per Spotrac.

The Royals still have Kelvin Herrera to close games. 

Its two-year playoff run in 2014 and 2015 briefly altered the way Kansas City does business, with Cot’s Baseball Contracts estimating its payroll last season at $131.5 million. That’s not a level this franchise can consistently operate on, so trading a reliever and adding an impact asset it controls through 2020 is the right move. 

The Cubs will happily take advantage of the Royals’ transition phase. They have a solid bullpen, even with the possible loss of Aroldis Chapman to free agency, as Hector Rondon has 77 saves since 2014. 

However, adding an impact arm to the team’s crop of relievers gives Cubs manager Joe Maddon depth and versatility—areas in which the defending World Series champions were lacking. 

In return, the Cubs deal from a crowded position group. The potential loss of free agent Dexter Fowler takes away one option, but they can still use some combination of Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., Jon Jay and Kris Bryant in the outfield. 

Soler has never been able to put it all together since signing with Chicago in 2012, due to injuries and inconsistent performance. He started to look like a future star in the second half last season with a .258/.348/.515 line in 36 games. 

That’s a small sample size; though, at 24 years old, Soler is still young enough to develop into a star right fielder.

Moving Davis now, while painful for Kansas City fans, represents the Royals’ best opportunity to have financial flexibility in the offseason and keep adding young, cost-controlled talent who can help them return to glory next season. 

Davis comes with risk after his injuries last year, but the Cubs are a franchise with the financial resources and depth to take on his contract with the hopes he can return to his 2014-15 levels when he was the best reliever in baseball. 

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