3 cost-effective free agents who can fill out Yankees roster after Aaron Judge deal

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Donovan Solano #7 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

1. Donovan Solano

Back in 2016, Donovan Solano was one of many light-hitting darts the Yankees threw at their infield wall during a down season in the Bronx. He was 28, aging out of prospect status by the day. He’d done a little singles hitting in Miami with the Marlins, but wasn’t all that valuable, never eclipsing the 94 OPS+ of his rookie season in 2012.

Predictably, like most 2016 Yankees, he didn’t do much with the team before finding greener pastures, hitting .227 in nine big-league games.

Shockingly, though, Solano found his footing in San Francisco, an often-copied move we call The Thairo Estrada. He resurfaced in the majors in 2019 and hit .330 in 81 games. Not only has he eclipsed that career-high 94 OPS+ mark in recent seasons, but he topped a league-average mark of 100 from 19-21 before falling to 97 in his lone season with the Cincinnati Reds last year.

Solano is about to turn 35 by Opening Day, but remains the quintessential bench rover, playing second, third and first during the 2022 season. It’s likely the Giants received the maximum thump he can provide, and that the Yankees would be picking up pieces of their past by acquiring him, but this would likely be a super cheap addition who — again — would provide more comfort than IKF and be excellent insurance for Josh Donaldson/DJ LeMahieu.