The San Diego Padres made a move to alleviate some pressure off of their infield logjam by trading Yangervis Solarte to the Toronto Blue Jays, as reported by Jeff Passan. San Diego will receive outfield prospect Edward Olivares as well as minor league right-handed pitcher Jared Carkuff.
Solarte was immediately put on the trade block after the Padres moved to acquire Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees as the infield became even more jammed. Granted, he has been garnering trade interest for quite some time now after hitting .255/.314/.416 in 2017 to go along with 18 home runs and 64 RBI. He also had a 7.2 BB/9% and a 11.9 K/9, showing that he was disciplined at the plate. However, playing time would be scarce as he would’ve been battling Headley, Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje, and Christian Villanueva for playing time.
His fielding was also questionable as a majority of his time in 2017 was spent at second base, where he posted a -3 Defensive Runs Saved and a -1.1 Ultimate Zone Rating. However, his versatility may be his strongest asset, as he can play every infield position except catcher and has manned a corner outfield spot at some points in his career. He was a leader in the clubhouse and brought fun to it even when the Padres were in the midst of some bad losing streaks. He was a fan-favorite among the fan base and, after the passing of his wife, Yuliette, was given a standing ovation by Padres fans in his first game back.
The return he fetched, however, is definitely interesting. Olivares is ranked 18th in the Blue Jays farm system by MLB.com and was signed out of Venezuela in 2014. He made steady progress throughout the Blue Jays’ minor league system and was hailed by some prospect evaluators as one of the more undervalued prospects in a system led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette. Olivares had a batting line of .277/.330/.500 and swatted 17 home runs and 65 RBI in 426 at-bats at Single-A Lancaster. He used his speed well and collected 18 steals on the base paths and was briefly promoted to High-A Dunedin at the end of the season.
He is capable of playing all three outfield positions, but should be able to stick to center field due to his impressive range. He can cover some ground with his speed and has a very strong arm and can make throws from right field to home look easy. He is sneaky good and is another player sniffed out by A.J. Preller and his scouts, who know how to find talent. He should start out in Single-A Fort Wayne, but don’t be surprised to see him make an appearance at High-A Lake Elsinore at some point in the season.
The 24-year-old Carkuff was a 35th-round pick in 2016 out of Austin Peay State University. He appeared in four levels of the minor leagues in 2017 and made a one game cameo at Triple-A. All in all, he pitched to a collective 3.86 ERA along with a 1.17 WHIP and picked up a 7.3 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 63 innings pitched. He struck out 51 batters as opposed to allowing 15 walks, and pitched strictly out of the bullpen. He is also a candidate to start out in Fort Wayne, but he could move quickly up the ranks.
The second base picture seems to be a bit more clear now as Asuaje and Spangenberg should battle it out in spring training, while Headley and Villanueva will fight it out for third base. Solarte will always be remembered as a fan-favorite and consistent player, and we at the East Village Times wish him luck in Toronto.