Yangervis Solarte’s stint as a member of the New York Yankees has come to an end - he’s been shipped off to San Diego with prospect Rafael De Paula in exchange for third baseman Chase Headley. While Headley should be an improvement for what has been a lackluster Yankee infield so far this season (and he's off to a great start), it doesn’t change the fact that Solarte gave us some memorable moments during his brief period in the Bronx.
At the beginning of the season, Solarte – a career minor leaguer who failed to post above-average numbers in his past two seasons in Triple-A – suddenly turned into one of the most dangerous hitters in the American League, hitting .336/.414/.521 with a 158 wRC+ over the first month and a half of the season. He became a major offensive cog that helped keep the Yankees above water in the early going, and his performance offset the poor production the Yankees received from many of their other infielders. At the beginning of May, Solarte held one of the highest batting averages in the American League and (while obviously in a small sample size) looked like a dark horse candidate for AL Rookie of the Year.
Solarte's biggest game came on April 17th against the Tampa Bay Rays, as Solarte not only hit his first major league home run...
but started what became a 5-4-3 triple play (one of only four triple plays that have happened this season). It doesn't hurt that it happened to be just about as picture perfect as a triple play could be.
Sadly, as many predicted, his hot start could not be maintained. Solarte hit a wall from mid-May on, posting a paltry triple slash of .180/.264/.256 with a 45 wRC+ from May 15 until he was traded. Solarte went from one of the best Yankee hitters to a black hole in the Yankee offense, and his struggles led to him eventually being sent down to Triple-A Scranton on July 3rd. Solarte did find his way back to the majors periodically over the month (because injuries refuse to leave the Yankees alone), but even when he managed to get into games, he showed no signs of regaining his early season form.
While turning an unproven and clearly streaky rookie into a more experienced and skilled major leaguer like Chase Headley definitely upgrades the team, it's still a bit sad to see Solarte go. Solarte’s hot start was a lot of fun while it lasted, and it became one of the best stories of the beginning of the season. However, his performance over his minor league career, coupled with his horrific decline over the past two months, suggests that he really didn't belong be in the Yankees' short term or long term plans. If the Yankees hope to make the playoffs, infield improvements had to be made, and trading for Headley will go a long way towards shoring up the hot corner. Like I said, it’s a bit sad to see Solarte go, but Cashman made the right call.
Solarte might at least get some consistent playing time in San Diego, giving him a chance find a way to become a solid major leaguer. We'll at least always have our fond memories of the Spring of Solarte, and of course, this ridiculous bat flip:
Here’s wishing him all the best.