It needs to be said up front: Jorge Soler is a definite wild card. The Kansas City Royals have to be thrifty as a small market club and the team has a very methodical approach in mind regarding their contention window and how and when to bring up their top prospects. That said, Soler presents an incredible opportunity to grab a highly regarded international prospect at a price that could prove much larger dividends than the original investment.
The Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and others are said to be in on the 19-year-old Cuban already so the price is likely to go north, perhaps as much as $20 million. That's a lot to pay for a total project, one who will likely need four full cycles of minor league seasons before he's even read for the Major Leagues. Yet the potential and the timeline could make him a perfect fit for the Royals.
As Adam Kilgore writes in the Washington Post, "Soler is an athletic, 6-foot-3 outfielder who can play center field but will likely end up as a corner outfielder. His high upside and potential to hit for power has made him a player coveted by a gaggle of teams."
"He’s got a Hanley Ramirez-type body," Nationals Director of International Scouting Johnny DiPuglia told Kilgore. "Plus arm. Plus bat speed. He’s a good kid, a good-energy kid."
Later in the column, Kilgore notes that some scouts like Soler better than the heralded Yoenis Cespedes, who is likely to command tens of millions more than Soler.
Think about the Royals timeline for a second. Alex Gordon is already approaching expensive territory and a long-term contract needs to be arranged there. Jeff Francoeur is likely holding down the fort for Wil Myers for the long-term. Bubba Starling is also waiting in the wings and should supplant Alex Gordon in a perfect world a few years from now. That said, things never work out that way. Highly regarded prospects fail to emerge as predicted, and a team has to be ready for such possibilities.
Soler could provide the same sort of impact outfielder that Myers and/or Starling is predicted to be and make such an impact. Of course, he might not. But that same thing could be said of Myers and Starling and they're already in the system. Plus the ability to be flexible with the major league roster and/or use some of the prospects for the right deal is invaluable. The Royals know this already.
If Soler is as good as some believe, the Royals have the ideal system to put him in -- a low pressure, small market, prospect laden system that can allow him to develop over time. In return, he can provide the eventual bat the Royals will need if they hope to stay competitive for the long haul.