It wasn’t Dee Gordon, Ian Kinsler or Freddy Galvis, but the Blue Jays acquired some much-needed middle infield insurance.
Solarte isn’t a household name among infielders, but he’s a versatile piece for the Blue Jays to have. The three years of potential control is attractive for a team like the Blue Jays who will be going through a drastic infield transition over the next few years.
The fact that Solarte is a switch-hitter who can play multiple infield positions is a huge benefit for the Blue Jays, given that the status of their 2018 Opening Day infielders is very much in question. Combined with Aledmys Diaz, Solarte drastically raises the floor on the Blue Jays’ middle infield depth.
He isn’t the sexiest name out there, but in comparison to what the Blue Jays ran out there at shortstop and second base in 2017, Solarte is a vast improvement. Case in point:
The Blue Jays' middle infielders collectively in 2017: -1.3 WAR.
Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz together in 2017: 1.3 WAR.
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) January 6, 2018
Along with the Diaz acquisition, what the Blue Jays are really doing here is incrementally upgrading offensively at every position possible. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney filled in when necessary these past few seasons, but contributed next to nothing offensively.
Solarte and Diaz may be a slight step back defensively, but they’re much more impactful on the other side of the ball. Remember, the Blue Jays scored the fewest runs in the American League in 2017. Frankly, this team can’t afford to carry players who can’t contribute at least something offensively.
Moves like these aren’t going to move the needle all that much, but acquisitions like the Solarte trade don’t set the Blue Jays back in terms of prospect capital. It may not have the same impact as a high-profile trade or free agent signing, but Solarte pushes the Blue Jays closer to contention … even if it’s only slightly closer.
True to the Blue Jays’ word, they did remedy the most glaring issue on the roster: middle infield depth. Now the team has a bevvy of capable infielders on the depth chart, which presents an interesting scenario if guys like Tulowitzki and Travis are healthy to start 2018.
That situation may push Travis into the outfield, which isn’t the ideal defensive alignment, but if healthy, working Travis’ bat into the lineup is paramount.
Solarte isn’t the Ben Zobrist or Dee Gordon type they may have been hoping for, but by acquiring this switch-hitting, multi-position infielder from the Padres, what the Blue Jays get in return is some form of Ben Zobrist-lite.
Remember, the floor for middle infield production has been so incredibly low for the Blue Jays these past few seasons. Travis has averaged 71 games played over the last three seasons and Tulowitzki’s tenure in Toronto has also been riddled with injuries. By comparison, Solarte has been a fairly stable presence in the Padres lineup dating back to his big league debut in 2014.
It’s difficult to envision where exactly Solarte fits into the Blue Jays roster, but given this team’s laundry list of needs, surely John Gibbons will fit him in somewhere.