For the second half of the 2017 season, the Padres were expected to use Erick Aybar at short. However, after suffering through a foul ball off his foot on July 22, the former Angel is no longer an option. As a result, Allen Córdoba and veteran minor leaguer Dusty Coleman have taken over.
With neither serving as servicable everyday regulars, San Diego has come up with the idea to have Yangervis Solarte play the hardest infield position. Is he up to it though?
When Solarte was signed, he was seen as a second or third baseman. That said, the most the 30-year-old saw of shortstop as he was ascending the minor league ranks was in 2013. While playing for the Texas Triple-AAA team, the future Friar only had twenty starts at the position. In 178 innings, he made two errors and often looked uncomfortable. As a result, he only manned short for 23.2 innings with the Yankees and Padres in 2014. He struggled mightily in that time as he accumulated a very underwhelming max range factor per game of 1.2. Meanwhile, the league average was about four.
This means that Solarte could have been regarded as one of the worst shortstops in the MLB since his limited range restricted him to routine plays. Even then, the Venezuelan’s negative DRS and UZR ratings hampered his defense. Thus, history is not on the Padre’s side when it comes to him being a major league shortstop.
Besides history, recently play does not inspire confidence for Solarte at short. In the four seasons that he has played in the major leagues, he has consistently been an average fielder at best. Throughout his stay in the majors, the talented hitter has posted below average DRS and UZR numbers. The only positive he had on defense was shown in 2015 when he saved one run as a second baseman and another as a first baseman. Otherwise, he’s been below average because of bad range. His good hands and solid work on routine plays prevent him from being atrocious though. Since he doesn’t even have the range to play third, it’s hard to think of him succeeding at short.
History and recent play are enough reasons for the Padres to not try replacing Aybar with Solarte. Yet, maybe putting him at short for a little while will be good for San Diego’s future. After all, he is a valuable trade chip this summer even though he’s working his way back from injury. By adding shortstop to his resume, like Jedd Gyorko did in 2015, his value will increase. The Padres may even get another team’s top prospect for a player who could now play every infield position and packs a solid bat. While Gyorko was a better defender, the Padres might as well try Solarte at the position. In a lost season, a team should try to improve a player’s trade stock in any way.
All in all, San Diego should allow Yangervis Solarte to play shortstop until he is traded. He probably won’t be good at all, but if he becomes at least serviceable at the position his versatile value will increase. With such an increase, the Padres can receive a better prospect from interested suitors. As for now, stay tuned in since Solarte received his first start at shortstop in three years on July 28. While it was in El Paso, expect him to be at the same position in the majors soon.