Yangervis Solarte, who was once a crucial part of an electric Blue Jays offence, seems likely to be a free agent come the winter, when the Jays will, in all likelihood, decline his option for next season.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, the Blue Jays are “likely” to decline Yangervis Solarte’s option for the 2019 season. The option is worth $5.5 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and includes a $750,000 buyout.
At this point, it’s unsurprising that Jays are seriously considering parting ways with Solarte. Brought over in a minor trade last offseason, he looked poised to be a consistent contributor to the lineup early in the year, slashing a solid .267/.330/.492 with 11 home runs, 32 RBI and 11 doubles in his first 50 games as a Blue Jay.
Unfortunately for Solarte, a native of Valencia, Venezuela, his offensive effectiveness was rather short-lived. In 69 games after June 1, he slashed .202/.242/.305 in 262 at-bats, striking out 40 times and walking just 13 times. He spent some time on the disabled list and saw a decreased amount of playing time given his struggles.
Though he’s versatile defensively, having appeared at first base, second base, third base and shortstop this past season, he’s quickly become a liability at the plate and certainly does not warrant the salary he’d be earning if his options were picked up.
While it’s of little importance at this point, it’s worth noting that Solarte’s contract also includes an option for the 2020 season, valued at $8 million with the same buyout as his 2019 option. On the off chance that the Jays do keep him, that option would be even more difficult to pick up, given the increased salary and Solarte’s increased age at that point in his career.
Overall, Solarte slashed a cumulative .226/.277/.378 this year with 17 home runs, 54 RBI, 20 doubles and 50 runs scored in 506 plate appearances spread across 122 games. He was worth -0.7 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, the lowest of the infielders on the team by a wide margin.
Regardless of how the Solarte situation resolves itself, it’s perhaps the least of the worries of the Blue Jays front office. With other options to make decisions on, and multiple positional holes to fill in free agency, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro will have to work cleverly and quickly if they want to ensure that next season won’t be a completely lost season for a rebuilding team with a new manager.
Though Solarte was an enthusiastic and entertaining player to watch for much of the season, his abilities on the field have unfortunately made it difficult to keep him around. More on this to come, as the decision on options must be made by the end of this week. The Blue Jays are likely to announce their decisions within the coming days.