(CBS) With an eye on defending their championship, the Cubs made a big splash at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday.
Chicago has acquired Kansas City closer Wade Davis in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler, the teams announced. The 31-year-old Davis has been arguably the best reliever in the game over the past three years and will immediately slot in as the Cubs’ new closer, replacing Aroldis Chapman, whom they have allowed to walk in free agency.
With one year on $10 million left on his contract, Davis can serve as an elite stopper for the Cubs as they chase another title while the organization also grooms talented 25-year-old reliever C.J. Edwards for a possible role as the closer of the future.
A two-time All-Star, Davis has been dominant over the past three years, registering a 1.18 ERA in that span. He had a 1.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.8 strikeout/nine innings rate in 2016, when he also had 27 saves. He’s allowed just three homers in 182 2/3 innings over the past three years. With his standout 2014 and 2015 seasons, Davis became the first pitcher in big league history to post back-to-back seasons with an ERA of 1.00 or below (minimum of 50 innings). He also boasts a 0.84 ERA in 32 1/3 innings in the postseason in his career.
Davis played for Cubs manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay from 2009-’12. He came up as a starter before moving to the bullpen in 2012 with the Rays. Of his 31 appearances for the Royals in 2013, 24 were starts. He then moved full-time to the bullpen in 2014.
The Cubs viewed the 24-year-old Soler as a talented youngster who was nonetheless a redundant piece. Already with the need to get Kyle Schwarber everyday at-bats in 2017 following his return from a knee injury and with Javier Baez emerging at second base and thus likely shifting Ben Zobrist to the outfield more often, the Cubs weren’t going to be able to give Soler regular playing time.
Soler thanked the organization and fans for all they did for him in Chicago.
Soler hit .238 with 12 homers, 31 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 86 games last year, when he dealt with injuries.