As the July trade deadline approaches all eyes are on Brad Hand and whether he will be moved for big name prospects.
While the Padres will surely strike oil when it comes to accumulating young talent for Hand, the same can be said of Yangervis Solarte. Teams always need depth in the postseason and Solarte is a good, versatile infield option with a solid bat.
Since the second half of 2014, Solarte has been an electrifying presence. His speed and therefore nickname “slowarte” is sad to watch, but he has too many good qualities to not be attractive to teams. First off, the Venezuelan is versatile, capable of playing first base, second base, and third base. Also, he is now getting reps at short. While he can only provide average defense at best, his ability to play in multiple positions is valuable, especially in a time where such a quality is desired. Look at Kris Bryant for proof. Gold Gloves may never be in their futures, but consistent play will.
Where the Padre really shines is on offense. With the bat, Solarte can impact games from both sides of the dish.
Although he is a better left-handed batter than right, he is an above-average hitter who rarely strikes out. His career slash line of .271/.334/.420 is helpful in any lineup. Whereas his lifetime OPS. of .775 is underwhelming, it has been brought up in the last two years due to a spike in home runs. Last year, he hit a record 15 which seemed to be his max potential.
However, 2017 has proved that assessment wrong. After swatting ten homers in 254 at-bats, he now looks like a 20+ home run threat. As such, his value has risen greatly. On top of his playing contributions, the 30-year-old provides an amazing clubhouse presence. Unlike Kemp, he plays to his full potential every day. When his wife died of cancer in 2016, he came back to the team, worked hard, and contributed. His work ethic and separation between personal life and baseball inspires young players like Manuel Margot to grow.
Overall, he has given San Diego enough for Preller to get a top prospect for him in a trade. It will be hard to let go of the heart and hustle of the Padres, but at this time he’s worth more to the team as a trade chip. Therefore, let’s look at some teams who need a veteran infielder.
The New York Yankees
Currently, the New York Yankees are looking at the A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso to supplant Chase Headley, who only hits for a decent average, at first base. Yet, Alonso doesn’t play anywhere but first base and the Yanks have Todd Frazier still struggling to make an offensive impact. In fact, since coming over from the White Sox, Frazier has hit to the small tune of .226/.351/.323 with only one extra base hit in 31 ABs.
Instead of the power-hitting Alonso, a versatile Yangervis Solarte would be able to replace both Headley and Frazier. Essentially, New York can bench the ineffective veterans on their infield roster for a player, Solarte, who can perform at third and first. The Padre can be an offensive spark plug for the Bronx Bombers just like he has been for the Friars. His batting average and power would look good in the Yank’s lineup.
In return, San Diego may be able to add top talent to its farm. It would be foolish to think that Preller will get shortstop phenom Gleyber Torres for Solarte, but there are other gifted prospects that the Yankees possess. One such prospect is Estevan Florial. The Haitian-born player has all five tools and has shown them in A-ball this year. In 2017, Florial’s stat line is .297/.374/.485 with 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases. One thing that needs to be pointed out is the fact that this offense comes from a 19-year-old. With such knowledge, the power and on-base tools are outstanding for a kid who is developing when most are have tough times adjusting. The one flaw that the Yankee prospect has is the propensity to strike out. In 340 at-bats this year, Florial has went down due to strikes 124 times, for a 36.47% strikeout rate.
However, his ability to get on base outweighs the strikeout problems right now. He will have to adapt at some point but for now his game is solid overall. As for tool ratings, scouts label him as an average contact-hitter, above-average power hitter, plus speedster, double plus thrower, and plus fielder. As a result, he’s similar to Padres’ prospect Michael Gettys as both are toolsy center fielder who have strikeout issues to work on. Also, both are All-Star type athletes. Therefore, the Friars should pluck him from the Yankees’ system.
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I write, I write, and then I write some more.. Lifelong Padres & Chargers fan who is tired of the acceptance of losing that grips all of San Diego sports fans!