Solarte Goes North
The NFL playoffs provided plenty of fun, excitement and entertainment over the course of the weekend. Unfortunately, the MLB hot stove season continued to disappoint, generative very little in the way of major news or excitement.
The biggest news of the weekend came from a trade that the Blue Jays and Padres consummated, that sent infielder Yangervis Solarte to Toronto for a pair of minor leaguers.
Solarte has developed into a fairly solid everyday player, slashing .255/.314/.416 with 18 homers and 64 RBI in 128 games for the Padres in 2017. He also brings versatility, having played at least at games at third base, shortstop, second base and first base last season for the Padres.
The curious part of the move for the Blue Jays, is that they already have Josh Donaldson manning the hot corner and Devon Travis, presumably, coming back healthy enough to play second. Of course, Donaldson has dealt with back issues himself over the years and Troy Tulowitzki isn’t a picture of perfect health at shortstop either. It’s likely, that Solarte is being viewed as an insurance policy for when one of those other infielders inevitably goes down.
He may lose out on a few at-bats when everyone else is healthy, but also benefits from a very positive ballpark shift and his surrounding lineup should be much better with the Jays than it was in San Diego in 2017.
For the Padres, they’re able to shed the $4.125 million that Solarte was set to earn this season and also gain a pair of prospects in the deal.
The crown jewel of the deal on their end, is Edward Oliveras. The 21-year-old outfielder slashed .269/.327/.468 with 17 homers and 20 steals between Class A and High-A this past season. He was considered the No. 18 prospect on MLB.com’s top 30 list in the Jays’ organization. Many talent evaluators around the league are bullish on him. It’s a nice return to add to an already strong minor league talent pool in San Diego.
The Padres also picked up minor league right-hander Jared Carkuff in the deal. A 35th round selection of the Jays in the 2016 draft, Carkuff registered a 3.86 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 51/15 K/BB ratio in 63 innings across four minor league levels. He finished the 2017 season at Triple-A, where he’ll likely begin the 2018 campaign. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him contribute out of the Padres’ bullpen this season.
Building a Bullpen
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported late Friday that the Padres had emerged as strong favorites to sign Japanese right-hander Kazuhia Makita, and by Saturday that deal had come to fruition.
The 33-year-old submariner adds an interesting new look to the Padres’ bullpen. He posted a terrific 1.91 ERA and 78/21 K/BB ratio across 141 ⅓ innings for the Seibu Lions over the past two seasons.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports then reported on Friday night that the Padres had re-signed Craig Stammen to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.
The veteran right-hander was one of the more dependable relievers in the National League last year, posting a 3.14 ERA and 74/28 K/BB ratio across 80 ⅓ innings with the Friars.
Makita and Stammen are both likely to function in setup roles in front of closer Brad Hand.
According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Astros “could emerge as a landing spot” for free agent closer Greg Holland.
The Astros already boast one of the stronger bullpens in the American League and have Ken Giles entrenched in the ninth inning role. After a brilliant regular season though, Giles struggled in October and some in the organization feel that the closer’s spot could be a problem area for the club.
If the Astros are unwilling to pay the premium that Holland is likely to command, Heyman notes that they could also consider veteran right-hander Addison Reed. In that instance, it would presumably be in a setup role, as it’s hard to imagine Reed displacing Giles.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Sunday that the Cubs are “now in the picture” for Holland as well. The Cubs have a potential opening in the ninth inning after Wade Davis bolted for Colorado, so it would be an interesting fit if the Rockies’ former closer were to land in Chicago.
The Nationals are also believed to be interested in the 32-year-old hurler.
Quick Hits: Maikel Franco was suspended for three games by his Dominican Winter League club (Cibao Giants) “for violating the organization’s discipline code”. The Phillies’ third baseman and several teammates were out partying until 6AM on Saturday when they had a game to play later that day… Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Friday that the Blue Jays, Orioles, Giants and Mets are among the teams that have expressed interest in free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzalez… The Tigers signed veteran infielder Pete Kozma to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Dodgers floated the idea of a Yasiel Puig for Jackie Bradley deal by the Red Sox and were quickly rebuffed.. The Royals have expressed interest in free agent infielder Ryan Goins… The Giants have tossed around the name Carlos Gomez in their search for an outfielder… The Yankees inked Jace Peterson to a minor league pact complete with an invite to spring training… Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported Friday that the Mets could be interested in Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier if the price were to fall on either… The Mets have also had contact with the representatives for free agent backstop Jonathan Lucroy… The Brewers officially signed Boone Logan to a one-year, $1.875 million contract with a $4.125 million club option for 2019… David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago reported that Alex Cobb turned down a three-year, $42 million contract offer from the Cubs this offseason… The Red Sox and Steven Wright avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million contract… The Padres signed Preston Guilmet to a minor league contract with a spring training invite… The Pirates added right-hander Bo Schultz on a minor league deal… The Mets and Jenrry Mejia avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.729 million contract… Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported that the Reds are still listening to trade offers on Billy Hamilton, though it’s unlikely that ownership would even sign off on one if they were to find a match… Dallas Keuchel has shed his walking boot and has already resumed throwing… According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins could wind up keeping Starlin Castro… Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Indians plan to move Jason Kipnis back to second base for the upcoming season… The Dodgers signed right-hander Zach Neal to a minor league contract with a spring training invite… Nick Martinez is heading overseas, having signed a one-year $1.8 million contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters… Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Sunday that the Nationals are interested in free agent right-hander Lance Lynn… Rosenthal also noted that the Orioles have recently met with free agent hurler Andrew Cashner… Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Orioles have some interest in acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury… Mike Puma of the New York Post said the Mets view Howie Kendrick as a potential fit at second base… According to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN, the Twins have inquired about free agent right-hander Chris Tillman.