At first glance, it seems impossible. Would the Cubs really trade Jorge Soler and more for Ender Inciarte? Soler was the big IFA prize in 2012 and he has made his way through the organization as one of the Cubs top prospects. Inciarte was far less heralded, even once projected by some early on to be a 4th OFer type.
According to a tweet by Julie DiCaro, the Cubs are considering the idea.
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) December 14, 2015
After an initial shock to my Cubs-centric system, I have eased up a bit on this. The Cubs are trying to put together the best roster possible and that doesn't always mean the same as the best group of individual players. In Enciarte, the Cubs improve their OF defense at two different positions -- RF as Heyward shifts over and, of course, CF where Heyward would be solid, but Enciarte would be better. Inciarte also helps diversify the Cubs lineup even more with another contact hitter. He may not be better in a vacuum., but he may help make it a more difficult lineup to game plan for. It could be a case of the whole being better than the sum of it's parts.
But even saying all of that, I am still terrified of trading Soler. We have seen what he can be in spurts, most notably the postseason. More than one scout has called Soler a potential monster. The Cubs would likely be trading a guy who hits 30-35 HRs with solid OBP numbers and a game-changing arm in RF.
That is enough to make anyone a little wobbly in the knees, but there are examples of teams trading a big offensive bat and yet still getting better. I can think of three that should be familiar to fans here in Chicago. One is part of this current front office trading Hanley Ramirez, who went on to become a star -- even an MVP level player -- with the Marlins, but the deal helped make the Red Sox a more well-rounded team. And, of course, they eventually won the WS with plenty of help from Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Another is the Cubs trading Joe Carter, who went on to have a great career but brought the Cubs Rick Sutciffe. Then there is the south side of town where the Sox traded slugger Carlos Lee for Scott Posednik. Now the hope is Enciarte would be better with more longevity than Posednik, but the deal did help the Sox break their own World Series drought.
Those are all anecdotal examples. They really don't have any bearing on how this particular trade would work out, but I do think it shows that trading such a talented player -- even if that player goes on to have a great career -- won't necessarily weaken the team overall. It may even make it better. It will certainly make them better defensively, more balanced, and more versatile. For the Braves, they would get a rare commodity in baseball today and a RH power bat they can pair with Freeman in the middle of their lineup for years to come.
I do not know if this deal will happen, or even if the rumor is true, But if it does happen, I think I can live with it given the potential to make the team more well-rounded and perhaps better suited for a postseason run. But that doesn't mean I won't cringe a little and keep an eye on Soler's career for a while.
Nobody said building a potential World Series winner would be painless.
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