The Padres aren’t good. But we already knew that. There’s no sugar-coating it either. However, for perhaps the first time in several years, the Padres front office has actually fully acknowledged that fact. After an ill-fated all in push prior to the 2015 season, and an even more ill-fated silent 2015 trade deadline, the San Diego Padres front office and organization has finally accepted failure with an eye towards long-term success.
In almost complete contrast to the 2015 trade deadline and the weeks prior, in which the Padres made a grand total of one trade (sending outfielder Abraham Almonte to the Cleveland Indians for left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski), this year’s deadline was marked by a flurry of activity. Not only did the Padres trade three of their five opening day starters, including Andrew Cashner, Drew Pomeranz, and James Shields, but they also trade their opening day closer Fernando Rodney and two out of their three opening day outfielders in Melvin Upton Jr. and Matt Kemp. All in all, the Padres roster looks almost completely different from it did on Opening Day.
With the big sell off this June/July, the hard part is now over for the Padres. The farm system has recovered greatly from where it was at this time last year, and the big league roster is filled with guys who either will be a part of the next good Padres team, or are not trade bait just yet. Well except for one player who is a bit of an interesting case. As you could have guessed from the title of this article, that player is third baseman Yangervis Solarte.
For those who don’t know, Yangervis Solarte is in the midst of a breakout season. Now obviously Solarte had a respectable season in 2014 split between the Yankees and Padres as well as a successful season in 2015, but this year he has reached all new heights. Although Solarte has only managed to be in the Padres lineup for 71 games due to various injury issues, he has been extremely impressive in that time.
Not only is Solarte slashing .288/.355/.485 on the season, he also has a wRC+ of 130 (which translates to him creating runs 30% better than the league average), and a fWAR of 2.4, all while contributing positively in the field and on the base paths. If you take those numbers and extrapolate them out to a full season, or at least near a full season, Solarte is a 5+ win player and arguably could be one of the top five or 10 third basemen in all of baseball. All for a guy who was acquired from the Yankees for third baseman Chase Headley.
While this success has been welcomed in San Diego, it leads to an interesting question: Is Yangervis Solarte a part of the Padres long-term plans? Perhaps the more important question is SHOULD Yangervis Solarte be a part of the Padres long-term plans?
Due to a variety of factors, the answer seems to be leaning towards a resounding no. While Solarte may very have established himself as one of the better third basemen in baseball, and this could be his new normal performance level, the Padres would be better off cashing in on him as soon as they can.
At 29 years of age, Solarte is no spring chicken, which becomes doubly important considering the Padres don’t look to have any realistic chance of competing until at least 2019 at the earliest. Taking a look at Solarte’s years of control remaining, 2019 would be his last arbitration eligible year, making him a free agent after the season at the age of 32. So if the Padres do hang on to Solarte and do field a competitive team in 2019, they will only have him for that last year until he becomes a free agent.
But couldn’t the Padres sign Solarte to a long-term deal? Obviously this is a long-term deal but brings up further questions. Due to the fact that Solarte is slated to become a free agent at the age of 32, would the Padres really be comfortable giving a large sum of money to a player who very well could be entering the declining phase at that point in his career. It’s certainly a potentially dangerous prospect, especially for a small market team such as the Padres.
With that being said, it makes all the sense in the world for the Padres to cash in on Solarte and move on from him while his value is high, perhaps even as soon as this offseason. While Myers should be off limits given his youth and potential position as the face of the franchise, Solarte does not have the same qualities. Solarte would be much better off playing for a contender during the prime of his career the next few years, and the Padres would be better off improving their farm system even further in a trade. It always hurts to trade away talented players, but in this case it may be the best solution. Yangervis Solarte may not be a part of the Padres long-term plans after all.