Time is running out for Soler, Royals with deadline approaching
I remember the day Jorge Soler became the Kansas City Royals' home run king at the tail end of the 2019 season as the Royals recorded their second consecutive 100-loss season – a feat that hadn't been accomplished since 2006.
Soler's 48 home runs bested Mike Moustakas' record of 38 from 2017 and knocked Steve Balboni – whose record of 36 that stood for 32 seasons had become a sore subject for Royals' fans – down to third on the single-season leader list.
At the time, it was the most exciting thing a 100-loss team can experience. Not only did Soler crush the club's previous record, but he hit the third-most home runs in all of baseball that season. At the time, he was slated to be a part of the Royals' future, which allegedly will include competing for a playoff berth at some point in the next five years.
Fast forward nearly two years and Soler's record-breaking year looks like a flash in the pan. The 29-year-old outfielder is in the final year of his contract with the Royals and has vastly underproduced with the bat and the glove.
The Royals have virtually nothing left to play for this season, other than the opportunity to introduce their prospects to the big leagues in September – or sooner. They need to avoid putting more miles on Salvador Perez's knees by having him behind the plate too frequently. More importantly, for my own sanity, Soler needs to be traded by the trade deadline at the end of July.
The only thing Soler can do to help the Royals at this point is hit in as many at-bats as he can and hit at least a couple of home runs to entice a team enough to trade for him. There's no way he will net a prospect of any notoriety but at this point, I would take the cash consideration or player to be named later offers in a heartbeat.
Otherwise, all he is doing for the Royals after the deadline is doing everything he can to show a team he is worthy of a shot next season. In addition to hitting below the Mendoza Line, Soler is a liability in right field, meaning the majority of his playing time has to come at designated hitter. That comes at the expense of Perez, who should be the de facto DH when he isn't catching. Keeping Soler out of right field has given Ryan O'Hearn the chance to take over 100 – undeserved – at-bats and he is hitting .229, which is an improvement over Soler but not what the club should be doing. Especially since it would benefit the team to see what Edward Olivares can do over a longer sample size in the major leagues. It was infuriating to see Olivares hit a home run in Saturday's win against Minnesota and be sent back down to AAA for the fourth time in a month instead of O'Hearn.
I don't know what else the Royals need to find out about O'Hearn before they move on. He has pulled the majority of his six home runs this season to right field of some of the shortest porches in the league and that doesn't matter hardly at all when he's playing in Kauffman Stadium the majority of the time.
The next month will be interesting as Soler will get every opportunity to show he has something to offer to a competitor, but if he doesn't, the Royals will have to bite the bullet and designate him for assignment to prevent any situation where he is taking up a roster spot that would be better used by an unproven player.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org