The Yankees have less than 24 hours remaining in training camp, and they have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. They need to bring either Eduardo Nunez or Yangervis Solarte on the 25-man roster, while sending the other to Triple-A. At first glance, this should be a straightforward decision. Best man wins. However, Solarte has a trick up his sleeve that may skew the decision towards him.
Solarte, the 26-year-old from Venezuela, has been cleaning up this spring. Through 47 plate appearances and 42 at-bats, Solarte is hitting .429 and has an on-base percentage of .489. Nunez, on the other hand, is hitting .265 this spring with a .280 on-base, and his defense is just as rough as it has always been. There may be sentimentality with Nunez, as he has been at the Yankees major league level for parts of the last four seasons, but his defense is a liability. That is something the Yankees cannot afford at this point because the health of their starters is very risky and these backups will be used often.
Solarte has a clause in his contract stating that if the Yankees do not add Solarte to their 25-man roster, he can leave the Yankees for another team that would place him on their 25-man roster. So rather than being able to hide Solarte in the minor leagues, there is a very real possibility that the Yankees will flat out lose Solarte if he isn’t in the Bronx dugout this week.
Even without the clause in Solarte’s contract, he has a very good chance of winning the spot on the 25-man roster. It is nearly a guarantee that a handful of teams would be looking for Solarte if the opportunity presented itself. Currently, the 40-man roster is full, and Solarte is not on it. So the Yankees may look to trade Nunez to open a spot for Solarte. Other options are trading other minor leaguers on the 40-man roster, or designating someone for assignment.
The Yankees need to make this decision final by 3 PM Sunday. Solarte seems to be the clear choice, even with the additional moves necessary to make it happen. Nunez has had trade interest in his time with the Yankees, and almost went to the Braves in the past. Moving Nunez would make the rest of the behind the scene decisions much easier to complete. The Yankees have essentially seen Nunez’s ceiling, and it’s not that high. Solarte can play both infield positions, and the corner outfield. It is time for the Yankees to cut ties with Nunez and bring in the possible future middle infielder of the New York Yankees, Yangervis Solarte.