Kansas City Royals trade Jorge Soler to Atlanta Braves at MLB deadline: details of deal

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The Kansas City Royals executed a trade-deadline deal Friday afternoon, sending slugger Jorge Soler to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor-league right-handed pitcher Kasey Kalich.

Soler, 29, had been on a power tear of late after struggling earlier in the season. He was hitting .192 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs.

In his last nine games, Soler had gone 8 for 30 (.267) with six walks, six strikeouts, six home runs and seven RBIs. But the Royals dumped about $2.8 million in salary by shipping him to Atlanta.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos reached out with interest in Soler 3-4 days before Friday’s trade deadline, and they spoke again on Thursday. But the deal wasn’t finalized until within the last 45 minutes before the deadline.

Soler, acquired from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Wade Davis in December 2016, leaves Kansas City owning the Royals’ single-season home run record. He belted 48 in 2019 to surpass the mark briefly held by former Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.

In five seasons with the Royals, the oft-injured Soler played in 395 games and posted a slash line of .236/328/.471 with 80 home runs, 80 doubles, 212 RBIs and 184 runs scored.

His 2019 season by far marked the high point in his Royals tenure. He played in all 162 games that season, and he batted .265 with a .354 OBP and a .569 slugging percentage in his record-setting year. He also had 117 RBIs to go with his 48 homers.

His home run mark that season also set a new single-season record for homers by a Cuban-born player, one more than Rafael Palmeiro hit in 1999 and 2001.

“Jorge Soler was amazing to watch perform here,” Moore said. “He’s the single-season home run champ here in Kansas City. He gave us a lot of thrills. He gave us everything that he had, but most importantly he gave us a lot of thrills. He hit some majestic home runs, and he was really, really fun to watch. I know we all feel very privileged to be able to watch him play baseball.”

After dealing Soler, the Royals promoted switch-hitting infielder Lucius Fox, who was acquired last summer from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Brett Phillips trade. Fox is in the majors for the first time, and he was set to be available off the Royals’ bench in Toronto Friday night.

Kalich, 23, was Atlanta’s fourth-round selection in 2019 out of Texas A&M. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander features a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, as well as what scouts view as an above-average slider.

“We liked him a lot out of the draft in 2019,” Moore said of Kalich. “I remember us talking about him specifically, the power to his pitches. He’s a big, physical guy. I know Lonnie (Goldberg) and our staff liked him a lot. We’ve seen him this summer ...”

MLBPipeline.com ranked Kalich No. 21 among the Braves’ top 30 prospects, while Baseball America ranked him No. 26 in its mid-season evaluation of the Braves’ farm system.

“He’s got a plus fastball with a plus slider,” Moore said. “(We) feel like he’s got a chance to be a power arm in the bullpen in the future.”

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was first to report the Soler trade.

On Thursday, the Royals sent pitcher Danny Duffy and cash to the LA Dodgers for a player to be named later. Duffy had been in the organization since he was drafted in 2007 and made his major-league debut in 2011.

“This guy absolutely loved being a Royal,” manager Mike Matheny said of Duffy. “He wears his emotions on his sleeve. He was excited about being wanted, excited about the opportunity to go help another club, but this is a guy who has been here for 14 years in this organization.

“It meant a lot to him and the people here. He’s a relatable person, and probably developed some of the closest relationships of any player I’ve ever seen, as far as just the interactions.”