Blue Jays: Middle infield logjam is a great thing to have for 2018

Brendan Panikkar
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Yangervis Solarte
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Yangervis Solarte /
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The Toronto Blue Jays have solved their middle infield issues this off-season by adding Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz as their only two moves via trade/free agency. The lack of moves has alarmed many, but those who understand the importance of the Solarte and Diaz additions are quite happy right now. The infield logjam they currently have is a very good thing for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Aledmys Diaz had a very nice 2.7 fWAR in 2016 in 460 at-bats. In 2017, he followed that up with a barely above replacement level season at 0.2 in 301 at-bats. Yangervis Solarte has been worth at least 1.1 or more wins in each of his four MLB seasons, when he came up with the New York Yankees in 2014, and then with the San Diego Padres. Last season was when Solarte was worth 1.1 wins in 512 at-bats, but he still clubbed 18 home runs, which was a career high.

These two subtle moves are actually quite massive when you consider who they’re replacing. The Toronto Blue Jays had Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney playing extended amounts of time when Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis were on the disabled list. Goins and Barney combined for a -1.3 fWAR in 2017, and they hurt the Blue Jays all season long. They provided no value to the team when they stepped in for Tulowitzki and Travis, at least in terms of wins above replacement.

Because of the lack of production from Goins and Barney, the Blue Jays set out to address the middle infield depth behind Tulowitzki and Travis. They’re operating under the assumption that they will miss both Tulowitzki and Travis will miss significant time at some point during the 2018 season, and it’s a good thing they’re thinking that way because Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz combined for a 1.3 fWAR. That’s two whole wins better than what you got from Goins and Barney, which is a nice improvement to the roster from 2017.

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Now, Solarte and Diaz are both coming off of career lows in terms of fWAR and numerous offensive categories. The fact that they have both shown during their careers that they can handle a full time workload and produce at the same time is great insurance for when Tulowitzki and Travis likely end up missing games. They both also have the potential for so much more than what they offered in 2017, which is an exciting development for the Blue Jays.

The fact that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro were able to acquire both Solarte and Diaz at a good cost salary wise, but also not breaking the bank with prospect capital and leaving the farm relatively intact, is a fantastic thing for this organization. They improved two whole wins based on 2017 production without giving up a whole lot, and that alone is exciting. Add the potential for what Diaz and Solarte can give you and you’ve got great replacements to fill in for an injury.

One thing I’ve noticed amongst the fanbase is some panic as to how the Blue Jays will share the at bats. There’s one thing that’s clear, Tulowitzki and Travis are still the starters with Solarte and Diaz being on the bench. In the event that all four of these players are healthy, the Blue Jays will get creative to get Solarte and Diaz at bats. Ross Atkins already has said that Solarte will have a big role even if Tulowitzki and Travis are both healthy. Solarte and Diaz could even spell guys in the outfield if need be.

This infield logjam is a perfect case scenario for the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays. The positional flexibility of both Solarte and Diaz can even get Travis and Tulowitzki off their feet on a more consistent basis, keeping them as healthy as possible for the grind of a 162 game season. The additions of Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz will be subtle but impactful moves that improve the 2018 version of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Next: Don't mess with Devon Travis' position

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