TORONTO -- Increased versatility has been the Blue Jays' top priority this offseason, and general manager Ross Atkins further stressed its importance on Saturday afternoon by trading for infielder Yangervis Solarte.Solarte was acquired from the Padres in exchange for Minor League outfielder Edward Olivares and right-hander Jared Carkuff. Olivares was
TORONTO -- Increased versatility has been the Blue Jays' top priority this offseason, and general manager Ross Atkins further stressed its importance on Saturday afternoon by trading for infielder Yangervis Solarte.
Solarte was acquired from the Padres in exchange for Minor League outfielder Edward Olivares and right-hander Jared Carkuff. Olivares was ranked Toronto's No. 18 prospect by MLB Pipeline, while Carkuff was taken in the 35th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
The 30-year-old Solarte will assume the role of utility infielder following a season in which he played all four positions for San Diego and slashed .255/.314/.416 in 128 games. He becomes the third infielder acquired by the Blue Jays this offseason, along with Aledmys Diaz and Mpho' Ngoepe.
"We've been talking about Yangervis for a long time internally, and our discussions date back to the end of last year," Atkins said. "He's an interesting, versatile player who has a nice offensive track record, a great reputation in the clubhouse and one that we thought would complement us well."
Toronto has a projected starting infield of Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Devon Travis and Justin Smoak but that hasn't stopped them from making multiple additions this winter. Tulowitzki and Travis have spent significant time on the disabled list in each of the past three years, and the Blue Jays seem determined to be better prepared in case that happens again.
Solarte and Diaz figure to occupy two spots on Toronto's bench, but there's also a scenario in which Travis could move to left field, which would open up second base. Toronto has remained non-committal about that possibility, but it's worth noting that Atkins has yet to rule it out. For now, the priority is making sure Travis arrives in Spring Training healthy and ready to go for the start of the season.
Beyond the big league roster, the Blue Jays also possess a substantial amount of infield depth. Ngoepe isn't strong offensively, but he's an elite defender, and other options include prospectsLourdes Gurriel and Richard Urena.
"We'll see," Atkins said when asked if Travis would switch positions to ease the logjam. "I think first and foremost, we are focused on Devon's health. He is one of the better second basemen in the game when he is healthy, and once we get him to that point and see how the rest of our lineup takes shape, then we'll determine how we start to prepare guys for their playing time in the season. There's still work to do in our offseason."
With the infield settled, the Blue Jays are expected to shift their attention to the starting rotation, corner outfield and possibly bullpen. Joe Biagini remains a candidate for the fifth starter's job, and the Blue Jays have no shortage of options in the outfield but would still be well-served to add an impact bat from outside the organization.
The switch-hitting Solarte will earn $4.125 million this season and has team options for 2019 ($5.5 million) and '20 ($8 million) remaining on his contract. The Blue Jays are expected to have approximately $15-20 million left to spend on a payroll that should approach last year's total of $160-165 million.
Olivares, 21, took a significant step forward in 2017 after advancing to Class A Lansing, where he played 101 games and posted a .277/.330/.500 slash line with 17 homers and 65 RBIs. Carkuff, 24, reached as high as Triple-A Buffalo last year. On the season, between four Minor League classes, he went 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 63 innings.
"There's never an easy trade because there are always compromises and sacrifices," Atkins said. "Edward is a solid player. I think it's a testament to our outfield depth, and that helped the trade along, but I think it's more a testament to the overall depth of our system and the recent work of our scouting and player development department. Edward was one of the pieces we were excited about, and we were able to make a long-term sacrifice [to help] the immediate future."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.