The Chicago White Sox are not the only AL Central team to add a middle infield via free agency this week. Infielder Donovan Solano is reportedly heading to Minnesota, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Twins and the 35-year-old have agreed to a one-year Major League deal. Here’s a closer look at Solano, and how he fits into the Twins roster.
Related: Tyler Naquin and Luke Voit Head to the Milwaukee Brewers on Minor League Deals
A Look at Solano
Set to enter his tenth MLB campaign, Donovan Solano‘s hit tool has been the key to the longevity of his career. A career. 278 hitter, Solano doesn’t possess great power or plus speed. What the 35-year-old does have, however, is the ability to make solid contact and can play a multitude of different positions in the field.
Solano saw over 100 games of action with the Marlins in both 2013 and 2014, but slipped down the depth chart in Miami before being cut loose in 2015. The veteran infielder saw just nine games of MLB action from 2016-18, all of which came with the Yankees in 2016. After stints in the Yankees and Dodgers organization, Solano found a home in San Francisco.
With the Giants, Solano established himself as a reliable contact hitter. Solano hit .330 over 81 games in 2019, then followed that season up with a .326/.365/.463 slash line in 2020. That performance earned the ex-Giant a NL Silver Slugger award.
In 2021, Solano hit a career-high seven home runs and 24 extra base hits for a powerful Giants team. Solano turned those three seasons in San Francisco into a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Reds in March 2022. With Cincinnati, Solano hit .284/.339/.395 with four home runs, 20 extra base hits, and 24 RBIs.
Among hitters (228) who have recorded at least 800 PA between 2020-22, Solano owned the 18th-best batting average (.290) in baseball, tied with new Astros first baseman José Abreu.
A knack for making good, solid contact is Solano’s best attribute. On top of that, the veteran infielder does offer some versatility in the field. The 35-year-old has played at four infield positions at various points in his career, but the majority of his career has been spent as second base. However, Solano did see a plurality of games at first last year with the Reds.
What it Means
The addition of Solano marks the second notable addition to the Twins infield core since the end of the last season. Earlier in the winter, Minnesota added Solano’s former Reds teammate, Kyle Farmer, via trade from Cincinnati.
With Carlos Correa now back in Minnesota, the star shortstop should once again form a double-play combo with Jorge Polanco. That should leave Solano to play a utility role with the Twins, one that could see the 35-year-old play at second, third, or even first base. Minnesota still needs to figure out how to fill the shoes of new Marlins infielder Luis Arraez, who saw a good amount of time at first for the Twins in 2022. Jose Miranda could be that player, but it’s more than likely that the 24-year-old becomes the primary third baseman now that ex-Twins 3B Gio Urshela is in Anaheim.
No, Solano won’t be the starting first baseman unless the Twins get ravaged by injuries. However, the addition of the former Reds infielder does give Rocco Baldelli options for how he wants to align his infield. Conceivably, Baldelli could run out Solano or Farmer at third and Jose Miranda at first on some days, or Miranda at third, Alex Kirilloff at first, and Solano either in the DH slot or at second should Polanco need a rest day.