Yangervis Solarte had a strong season at third base in 2015, while Gyorko had a strong second half of the season at second base/shortstop. Despite these strong seasons for both players, the Padres could still be in the market for infield upgrades. The Padres have already been linked to Ian Desmond and a few others at shortstop but third base could be another focus for the Padres this offseason.
Enter Trevor Plouffe. The Twins third baseman has had strong seasons in both 2014 and 2015 and has been a consistent starter for Minnesota for the better part of four seasons. Plouffe slashed .244/.307/.435 in 2015 with a wRC+ of 102 and a WAR of 2.5. This was a slight decline from his 2014 season of a wRC+ of 112 and a WAR of 3.6. Plouffe’s defense also declined from 2014 to 2015, but he still was an above average defender at third base.
Now if the Padres did decide to attempt to upgrade to Plouffe this offseason, the question remains about whether he would be an upgrade from Yangervis Solarte, who got a majority of the playing time for the Padres at third base in 2015.
Solarte had a bit of breakout in 2015, finishing with a slash line of .270/.320/.428 with a wRC+ of 109 and a WAR of 1.6. Based on these numbers, Solarte hit for a higher average than Plouffe, had a higher on base percentage and had a higher Weighted runs created number. However, Plouffe had a higher slugging percentage, a higher WAR value, and produced more defensive value.
While Solarte had quite a strong season by his standards in 2015, Plouffe could still be an upgrade with Solarte perhaps playing a better role on the bench. Another option the Padres have is using Jedd Gyorko at shortstop in 2016, and shifting Solarte to second base. Gyorko was decent enough at shortstop last season and the Padres could move him there on a temporary basis while they attempt to find a better option long term.
The main reason this trade makes sense as a fit, is the Twins need to not only free up a position for Miguel Sano but also add some rotation or bullpen depth. The Twins have started playing Sano in the outfield, but moving Plouffe would allow Sano to play a more natural position at third base.
The Padres have a few interesting bullpen arms that the Twins may consider as well as some potential starting pitching options in Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross. The two teams needs/surpluses align well which makes the prospects of a potential trade interesting.