UPDATE: This trade is official as of Wednesday afternoon, per Jeffrey Flanagan from royals.com:
It is official. Wade Davis to Cubs for Jorge Soler. #Royals— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) December 7, 2016
Now, here's the rest of the story as posted early Wednesday morning.
According to a report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Cubs and Royals have agreed to a one-for-one swap of outfielder Jorge Soler for reliever Wade Davis, pending physicals.
The #Cubs and #Royals have a deal: OF Jorge Soler to #Royals for Wade Davis. Teams examining physicals. Will be announced in morning— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 7, 2016
Davis has been one of the best relievers in the major leagues the past three seasons, posting ERAs of 1.00, 0.94 and 1.87 in 2014, ‘15 and ‘16. Before the 2016 season, the MLB Network’s "Top 10 Right Now" ranked Davis as the top reliever in baseball. Davis strikes out more than a batter an inning and has allowed just three home runs since he became a full-time reliever in 2014. He was a key part of the Royals monster bullpen that won back-to-back pennants in ‘14 and ‘15 and the World Series in 2015. He had served as the Royals closer since Greg Holland underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. He saved game four of the 2015 World Series.
The downside of Davis is that he did miss all of August last season with some forearm tightness, although he did return in September and with the exception of his first outing back, was very, very good. He also is eligible for free agency after the upcoming season, so this could just be a one-year rental. (Although unlike Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs will be able to make Davis a qualifying offer and receive draft compensation for him if he leaves.)
Going to Kansas City is Jorge Soler, a promising young Cuban slugger who found himself on the outside looking into the Cubs crowded outfield situation. Soler has hit .258/.328/.436 for the Cubs in 211 games over the past 2 1⁄3 seasons. He was terrific in the 2015 playoffs and was 2 for 5 with a triple (and no, he couldn’t have scored) in the 2016 World Series. He has also hit some monster home runs and he has prodigious power.
The downside for Soler is that he’s battled hamstring problems his entire professional career and has had trouble staying on the field. He has also been a terrible defensive corner outfielder, although the Royals have the option of putting him at DH.
A big reason that Soler was so attractive to the Royals is that he’s under team control through the 2020 season and is signed to a team-friendly contract, although he can opt-out of that contract once he becomes arbitration-eligible.
So the Cubs are trading four years of a potentially-impact bat, albeit one that hasn’t quite lived up to his potential yet and one that the Cubs had no real room for in their lineup. In return, they get one year of of one the best relievers in baseball and draft compensation if he leaves as a free agent. It’s a "win-now" move for a Cubs team that, coming off a World Series title, should definitely be in win-now mode.