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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Yangervis Solarte

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Thanks for the memories, #Plangervis.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: C

2014 Statistics: With Yankees: 75 G, .254/.337/.381 (104 wRC+), 1.1 fWAR; with Padres: 56 G, .267/.336/.355 (101 wRC+), 0.4 fWAR

2015 Contract Status: Traded to the San Diego Padres, currently Pre-Arbitration.

With the infield situation in total flux after the loss of Robinson Cano, I had no idea how the organization would fix the problem. Third base was a question mark, Derek Jeter could easily get hurt after coming off his lost 2013, and Brian Roberts was Brian Roberts. The Yankees had their back up option in 2013, and that was Eduardo Nunez. You all know how I felt about Eduardo Nunez (many felt the same), and it was time for a new direction. Coming into Spring Training there was a clear competition for the back up infielder position between Nunez, "Most Underrated Player In Baseball History" Dean Anna, and, of course, Yangervis Solarte.

Solarte was signed out of Venezuela as an amateur free agent by the Minnesota Twins way back in 2005, and he spent six years in the Twins' system before being released. He then spent two seasons with the Texas Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, and was once again released after the 2013 season. He then came to the Yankees' camp as a non-roster invitee, where Yankees scout Jay Darnell took notice, especially after seeing him in the previous season. He said the following to the Daily News:

"They had a lot of top end prospects – (Jurickson) Profar, (Mike) Olt," Darnell said. "Solarte was trying to find his spot there. When I saw him with Triple-A, it was early. He was playing second and Olt was at third and Profar was at shortstop. I had never seen him before, but liked the versatility, overall baseball acumen. With our need for infielders, I thought he’d be good."

He was certainly right. Solarte was certainly overlooked given the organizational depth of the Rangers, and the Yankees practically had to give him a shot given the state of their infield. We at Pinstripe Alley dubbed it "Plan Yangervis", or "Plangervis". And to everyone's disbelief, Solarte won a roster spot over Eduardo Nunez. Just on that alone, he was certainly worth it.

And then in the first month of the season, he shocked all Yankees fans and the baseball world by going on tear: in his first 92 PA he hit 145 wRC+ with nine doubles and a home run. And not only was he producing, but he was playing adequate defense around the infield and provided a versatility the team had lacked for a long time. But, of course, the gravy train had to run out.

From the beginning of May until the All-Star break, Solarte hit just 85 wRC+with just five doubles and five home runs in 199 PA; his performance even earned him a trip back to Triple-A. And as Brian Cashman saw his value plummeting, he had to capitalize on it as the Yankees' season began to slip away. At the trade deadline, the Yankees sent both Solarte and Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Chase Headley. After heading over to San Diego, Solarte hit a respectable 101 wRC+ and has five more years of team control left. The Padres gave up a great player with an expiring contract that they did not want and got a versatile and cost-controlled utility man in return. No one on either side of the deal was dissatisfied.

Yangervis Solarte was an unknown minor league journeyman, and the Yankees scooped him up for pennies on the dollar, extracted about one win out of him, and then flipped him on the trade market for nearly three wins in return. For a team that was tapped out financially and needed infield options, I think that constitutes a resounding success for the Yankees' front office. His time in the Bronx was mediocre overall, but his stint of brilliance and trade returns were great positives in a year of many negatives.