Ever since he was acquired in the 2014 trade for Chase Headley, Yangervis Solarte has been nothing short of consistent. After coming into training camp in 2015 as a super-utility infielder, Solarte has taken hold of a starting job in the infield thanks to his consistent bat and positive leadership ability.
However, Solarte comes into the 2018 season with some question marks. His normal spots in the infield are taken up by younger players, with Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg, and even Christian Villanueva all making their cases for starting time. Even Luis Urias is coming to the majors sooner rather than later.
Solarte, with his spots at second and third base taken, took up at shortstop and, while his shortstop play was decent, fans know he won’t be there forever, especially not with Fernando Tatis Jr in the minors.
Yangervis Solarte is a fan-favorite and loved by the San Diego community, who showed an outpouring of support after the tragic passing of his wife, Yuliette. So many would like to see him continue playing for the Padres. However, like many others, his name is on the trading block. Does it make more sense to trade Solarte now in favor of younger talent, or does he get to stay and lead the new youth movement?
Yangervis Solarte has shown surprising amounts of pop over his tenure as a Padre. Over the two and a half years he has played in San Diego, he has hit 51 of his 57 career home runs and 85 of his 99 doubles. Solarte also slugged to a .416 average, good for seventh on the team (ninth if Dusty Coleman and Villanueva’s cups of coffee are added in). This average led to him being placed at or near the middle of the lineup with Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe, and Solarte certainly did his part, hitting a career-high 18 dingers and collecting 64 RBI.
His power also surprised many opposing pitchers, which led to some memorable moments. Most memorable was his first career walk-off homer against the Dodgers. Solarte took an 0-1 fastball from Pedro Baez and rocked it into right field, giving the Padres a 6-5 victory over their crosstown rivals. If Solarte can keep this power output trending consistently upward, he will surely keep a spot in the lineup.
There is a reason Solarte came into spring training as a super utility player at one point in his career. In 2017, Solarte bounced around the entire infield, playing 80 games at second base, 22 at third, 28 at shortstop, and he even spelled Myers at first for eight games. Solarte also has experience in the outfield, as he has manned left field before. Defensively, his best position is second base, with a fielding percentage of .983, which is where his lack of elite foot speed will have the least amount of impact on his fielding. However, his reflexes and strong arm help him make a good play at third base as well.
Solarte was auditioned at shortstop due to injuries and the emergence of younger talent, but his four errors in 28 games, as well as a .956 fielding percentage in 2017, show he is suited elsewhere. He was out there as more of a necessity thanks to Erick Aybar‘s injury and Dusty Coleman‘s struggles, however his versatility and willingness to play wherever and whenever certainly boosts his stock with the team.
Perhaps the most important part of Yangervis Solarte, is his role in the clubhouse. You will never find a player with more positivity and spunk than him. Whether he is doing his patented “alligator clap” celebration after a home run, showing off his dance moves in the clubhouse, or having a dance-off with fellow Venezuelan Carlos Asuaje, Solarte always keeps the clubhouse upbeat and jolly no matter the circumstances.
Many of San Diego’s best prospects come from outside the United States and will look for a friendly face. With Solarte in the clubhouse, eventual call-ups like Tatis and Urias will have someone to converse with and look up to as a mentor. In turn, Solarte can pass down information and advice to the rookies, all while keeping the mood light and entertaining for the entire clubhouse.
Solarte has always been consistent, yet 2017 was a down year for him. His batting line went from a .286/.341/.467 in 2016 to a .255/.314/.416 in 2017, while his OPS dropped from .808 to a .731. His 2016 batting line looks the way it does due to him playing only 109 games, yet he only played 128 games in 2017, which is not a steep increase. Solarte battled injuries in both years, and the strained oblique he suffered in mid June may have effected him more than he would’ve liked it too.
The injury caused Solarte to miss five weeks of action and it had a noticeable effect on his swing, especially from the right side of the plate. He had trouble taking swings from the right side and he hit only left-handed during his time in the minors. Solarte had a .794 OPS against righties compared to .564 OPS against lefties. So not only was he slugging less against left-handed pitchers, he was also walking less and swinging through pitches more. Hopefully, this is just a blip in the radar and not a trend for the veteran.
He’s on the trade block
Solarte has been one of the most talked about Padres (aside from Brad Hand), and A.J. Preller is ready to listen to any and all offers for him. There is a lot for teams to like with him, as his versatility allows him to be placed anywhere on the field. He can provide some pop off the bench, and a switch hitter is always welcome on any team. He is also cost-efficient as he has signed a two-year deal for $7.5 million with two club options for 2019 and 2020, giving an opposing team a lot of control over his future. Any team looking for infield versatility will be in on him, and Preller won’t say no to a few intriguing prospects that could help the team in the near future. Keep tabs on Solarte and be prepared for a trade to occur, as anything can happen during the MLB Hot Stove season
Yangervis Solarte is both a capable major league ballplayer and a clubhouse leader. While he doesn’t do one thing spectacularly (except dance and be an amazing dad), he gets the job done consistently and without complaint. He is an absolute delight to both his fellow players and the fans, and he brings positive vibes with him wherever he goes.
However, age and injuries may be catching up to the Venezuelan. He had a down year numbers wise and he is currently entrenched in a log jam at his main positions with younger players fighting for a starting job. Plus he is on the trade block, as many teams desire his services and would be willing to part with a prospect or two to get him. If Solarte isn’t traded this off-season, expect for him to go into spring training battling for a starting job. If he doesn’t win a job, he will still be a reliable source of offense off the bench who can man any position at any time.
I am currently attending San Diego State University while working on achieving a major in journalism. At SDSU, I write for The Daily Aztec while also hosting the sports radio show “Picked Off”, for KCR Radio. A loyal fan of San Diego sports, I hope to bring content that you will enjoy reading.