Despite the Blue Jays deciding not to exercise Yangervis Solarte’s contract option, he remains on the 40 man roster. What’s to become of him in Toronto?
The Blue Jays’ front office has already made a few decisions to start their offseason, including the hiring of Charlie Montoyo, and the recent contract options for Justin Smoak (picked up), and Yangervis Solarte (declined).
Smoak’s case was a no-brainer after he was the team MVP for a 2nd consecutive year, and he’s owed just eight million for 2019. Solarte’s situation was a little different, as he was far from the team MVP, and has a large group of infielders he’ll have to compete for playing time with, assuming he’s back in Toronto next year.
The fact that Ross Atkins and company decided not to pick up his 5.5 million dollar option wasn’t exactly a surprise, and likely foreshadows his eventual departure from the Blue Jays after just one season. For the time being though, Solarte remains on the 40 man roster and the front office will have to address his situation again in the not so distant future.
They’ll be left with three different options: to trade him, to non-tender him, or to work out a new salary figure, as he’s now eligible for arbitration. While the latter is entirely possible, given the infield glut that the Blue Jays are facing it seems far more likely that he’s traded, or non-tendered.
If the Blue Jays were shopping the Solarte that played in the first half of the 2018 season, trading him would be no problem at all, and there’s a good chance they’d even find a way to keep him around. He slashed .241/.297/.422 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI in 92 games prior to the All-Star break, and unfortunately things cratered for him after that. He battled some injuries in the second half, but hit just .175/.204/.223 in 30 games, and was a frequent target of criticism from the fans.
Because of the rough finish to the year, it’ll be a much more difficult sell on the trade market for Atkins, especially because Solarte isn’t an ideal fit anywhere defensively. He’s likely best suited for third base, but he doesn’t really provide enough premium hitting to justify the position. He likely provides enough offence to be an asset at second base, but he’s not terribly strong on defence at the position.
It’s possible the Blue Jays will find a taker for him in the coming days, especially if the buyer looks at what he did in the first half of last season, and at his ability to play multiple positions. On paper he makes a lot of sense, but the fact that the Blue Jays did not exercise his option is also telling. It shows me that they either believe he’ll be easier to trade if the acquiring team believes they could have him for even cheaper, or that the Blue Jays are scared they couldn’t move him at that salary. It seems like the Jays should be able to get some sort of return for him, but if they do it’ll be a modest one at best. By declining his contract option, they can choose to just not tender him a contract if they can’t find a taker.
In that case Solarte would hit the open free agent market and would be free to sign with any team he likes. And while I’m confident he would be able to find a big league job, he’ll need to perform in 2019 to secure a future in the big leagues for the next few seasons. At 31 he should have plenty of gas left in the tank, but teams are looking to go younger all the time, especially with their middle infielders. Look no further than Toronto as a prime example.
It’s a bit of a shame that things look like they’re going to end with either a trade or him being non-tendered, especially after the successful and popular start in Toronto for the “Dancing Venezuelan”. However, for a team that’s just at the beginning stages of a rebuild, moving on from him makes all the sense in the world.