In a surprising move Saturday afternoon, the Blue Jays further bolstered their infield depth in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Per Jeff Passan, Toronto has picked up utility player Yangervis Solarte, with Edward Olivares going the other way according to Robert Murray.
Source: The Toronto Blue Jays have traded for Yangervis Solarte from San Diego.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 6, 2018
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayFRS) January 6, 2018
Solarte ticks a lot of boxes for the Blue Jays. Able to capably handle third base, second base, the corner outfield, and even shortstop in a pinch, the 30-year-old Venezuelan also has shown an ability to help out on the offensive side of the ball as well. Over the course of his four year career (which started with the New York Yankees), Solarte has hit .267/.327/.419 with 57 home runs, good for an OPS+ of 105 and a TAv of .271. In short, he’s very much a league average bat. He’s also a switch-hitter, which will definitely help with the Blue Jays righthanded-heavy lineup, and goes nicely with his versatility in the field. He hits better from the left side, but can still be trusted to get at-bats against occasional lefties.
Solarte is coming off a slight down year, hitting only .255/.314/416, so there is some risk in the bat as he moves further onto the wrong side of 30. That said, he should not be expected to be a full time player, so some of that risk is mitigated. Getting a hitter who is even close to average as a reserve will be of tremendous help to Toronto. Thanks to the injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney combined for 821 plate appearances in 2017. That simply isn’t acceptable for any team that considers itself contenders, so the Jays decided to address their depth. With the additions of Solarte and Aledmys Diaz – two players who have been starters very recently – Toronto has definitely accomplished this.
Solarte will also work well in their salary structure as he is only due $4.125M in 2018, leaving them plenty of room to continue to bolster the outfield, their backup catcher, and the pitching staff. He also comes with a $5.5M club option in 2019 ($750K buyout) and an $8M option in 2020 ($750K buyout), so not only does he help this year, but he gives them some cover and control for a couple more years.
Going the other way is Edward Olivares, a 21-year-old centerfielder. Olivares had a nice season with the Lansing Lugnuts in low-A, hitting .270/.330/.500. Olivares also added 17 home runs and 18 stolen bases in his first full season in the minor leagues. Baseball Prospectus included Olivares in their “Next 10 Prospects” for Toronto and had this to say about him:
Like with many young, low minors prospects, the swing has some noise and there are gains that need to be made in terms of pitch recognition….The carrying tools are speed and defense. On the bases, he’s a fluid runner that displays a second gear when needed with his plus raw speed. That said speed allows for a lot of ground to be covered in the outfield and Olivares has shown the ability to play all three positions. The arm is average for right but would play above average in center and left. This versatility combined with speed give a floor of a second division major league outfielder with a chance to become above average if the bat continues to advance.
So there is some potential that the Jays are sending the other way, but Olivares is still in A-ball and is the type of player that the club can afford to lose to address a major issue with the major league roster.
Per Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays are also sending Jared Carkuff to the Padres in the deal. Carkuff was a 35th round draft pick in 2016 out of Austin Peay University who has pitched exclusively in relief since signing. As a fastball/slider pitcher who added a changeup this year, he owns a 3.21 ERA over two years with and 8.8 K/9, but struggled a little bit in 2017 in his first taste of high-A ball. He is very much a flier for the Padres and not someone the Jays should worry about losing.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) January 6, 2018
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