The Dodgers checked one item off of their offseason checklist with the return of Rich Hill, finalized on Monday. The potential return of fellow free agents Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen remains a possibility, but for now let’s focus on second base, where Padres infielder Yangervis Solarte has emerged as an option.
The Dodgers this offseason have been linked to Ian Kinsler of the Tigers, Brian Dozier of the Twins, and Logan Forsythe of the Rays. Filling the position by trade has always seemed the more attractive route for the Dodgers, even before free agent Chase Utley was linked to the Angels, as he was on Monday by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports.
But Solarte fits the bill as a trade target as well.
Solarte is a 29-year-old switch hitter from Venezuela who hit .286/.341/.467 with 15 home runs and 26 doubles in 109 games with San Diego in 2016. He is a career .271/.332/.419 hitter in parts of three seasons with the Yankees and Padres.
He has no real discernible platoon split in his career, hitting .272/.335/.421 as a left-handed batter and .270/.321/.415 as a right-hander.
In the majors Solarte has played mostly third base, with 271 starts, but has also started 47 games at second base and 27 more at first base, though he rates below average across the board defensively.
Solarte is more in the Forsythe price category than the loftier Dozier or Kinsler markets, but could be a potential fit. Ken Rosenthal reported on Sunday that the Padres are aggressively shopping Solarte, who at three years of major league service time is eligible for salary arbitration for potentially the next three years.
The other three trade candidates, if their options are exercised, all have two years remaining (ignoring for a moment Kinsler’s desire for a contract extension to waive his no-trade clause). A team would get Solarte for three seasons. He also has three option years remaining.
Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors projected Solarte to earn $2.7 million in 2017.
The Dozier option
As for Dozier, the Dodgers remain interested in the Twins second baseman as well, noted by Heyman.
Dozier, who hit 42 home runs in 2016 and has averaged 28 home runs for the last four seasons, was at the winter meetings on Monday for an Under Armour event, celebrating the company becoming the official uniform and apparel provider of MLB beginning in 2020.
Dozier has two years and $15 million remaining on his contract, and addressed the trade rumors.
"That is what fuels you to hopefully remain in an organization because you want to be a part of success there, but at the same time I understand it's a business. Obviously the Dodgers have come up and it's one of those things that is exciting,” Dozier said, per Doug Padilla of ESPN. “If you don't embrace the opportunity to let all of this soak in and see how teams value you, then you lose out. I think it's pretty cool."