[Updated Royals depth chart at Roster Resource]
As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes (on Twitter), the move has some strategic short-term logic, as Burns provides more defensive versatility for the Royals’ five games in NL ballparks next week. In the big picture, however, the move comes as a way to get Soler some regular playing time during what has been a very lackluster start to his Royals career.
Kansas City acquired Soler from the Cubs in a one-for-one trade for Wade Davis in the offseason, with the hopes that Soler would emerge as something of a post-hype breakout candidate. A heavily-touted prospect out of Cuba, Soler battled injuries and hit .258/.328/.434 over 765 PA as a Cub from 2014-16, eventually getting squeezed out of playing time due to Chicago’s outfield depth.
Since joining the Royals, however, injuries and a roster crunch have again limited Soler’s value. After missing all of April with an oblique strain, Soler has posted just a .565 OPS over 65 plate appearances this season and lost the regular right field job to the hot-hitting Jorge Bonifacio. With Brandon Moss in the DH spot on most days, there simply hasn’t been much room for Soler to get into the lineup, especially given his lack of performance.
Soler is still just 25 and is under contract through the 2020 season, as per his original nine-year, $30MM deal with the Cubs. The Royals clearly still see the outfielder as an important long-term piece, so it behooves both sides that Soler gets on track with an everyday role in Triple-A. It’s hard to estimate exactly how long Soler will be in the minors, though with the Royals in last place and potentially facing a selloff of several veterans at the deadline, he’ll surely be back in K.C. before the season is out.