TODAY: The Giants announced that Solarte has passed his physical (The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly was among those to tweet the news).
FRIDAY, 9:50am: If he makes the roster, Solarte will earn $1.75MM and can make another $250K via incentives, tweets Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. That seemingly indicates that Solarte’s deal is of the minor league variety, though it could also be a non-guaranteed MLB pact that comes with a 40-man spot. The team has yet to announce the signing.
9:17am: The Giants and free-agent infielder Yangervis Solarte have agreed to terms on a contract, reports Robert Murray of The Athletic (via Twitter). The deal is pending the completion of a physical. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported yesterday that San Francisco had interest in the versatile veteran.
Solarte, 31, had a steady run of production between the Yankees and Padres from 2014-17 before seeing his offensive output unexpectedly crater upon a move from pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre in Toronto. The switch-hitter didn’t debut in the Majors until he was 26, but he quickly acclimated himself and hit a combined .267/.327/.419 with 57 homers, 99 doubles and six triples through his first 2061 plate appearances.
Last offseason, the Padres flipped Solarte and the remainder of what looked to be a club-friendly contract — he was earning $4MM in 2018 and had a pair of club options worth a combined $13.5MM for 2019-20 — to the Blue Jays in exchange for prospects Edward Olivares and Jared Carkuff. The transition back to the AL East was a rough one for Solarte, however, and his season concluded with a disappointing .226/.277/.377 batting line in 506 plate appearances. Following that showing, the Jays declined his $5.5MM option, making him a free agent.
Though the 2018 season wasn’t a good one for Solarte, there were still some positives. He remained an exceptionally difficult player to strike out, whiffing in just 14.2 percent of his plate appearances. Solarte’s line-drive rate actually increased over his more productive 2017 season and over his career mark, as well. It’d be fair to attribute some of his poor showing to a major drop in his batting average on balls in play (.233), though it should also be pointed out that his low mark in that regard isn’t as unfortunate as it seems; Solarte’s 28 infield flies tied him for the sixth-most in baseball, and popping up at that rate will naturally reduce a players BABIP. Pop-ups have been an issue at times for Solarte in his career, but never more so than last year, when he held the dubious distinction of tying Mike Moustakas for the Major League lead in infield-fly rate (19.2 percent).
All of that said, Solarte isn’t long removed from being a reasonably productive bat, and he can help the Giants by serving as a depth option at any of the four infield positions, as he has at least 264 innings at each slot. While he’s not a premium defender at any of those positions, he doesn’t rate disastrously at any of the four, either. As a low-cost bench option for a team that has seen as many recent infield injuries as the Giants, Solarte is sensible addition. And, if he’s able to bounce back to his previous levels of production, the Giants could well find themselves with a tradeable commodity on their hands this summer.