Earlier this evening I saw a tweet that Yangervis Solarte and the Padres had submitted their arbitration figures and were a relatively mere $400,000 apart. I thought little of it since it had been rumored for the past day that the two sides were working on a multi-year deal, and refocused my attention on the Scrabble board in front of me. Sure enough, before I had finished my plate of deep-fried Oreos and completed my comeback win over my dear friend who had cooked them, the team announced that they had struck a deal with Solarte. The beloved infielder is now taken care of for next season and 2018, and the organization holds options for the following two seasons.
Not only did Solarte turn in his best season of play thus far in 2016, he was responsible for the single most moving moment I have experienced in over three decades on Earth. On September 24, he returned to the Padres just one week after losing his wife Yuliette to cancer. In a game that saw the Padres trailing 6-0 before Hunter Renfroe's first major league home run, Yangervis was summoned by manager Andy Green to pinch-hit for pitcher Carlos Villanueva with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning of what had become a 6-5 game.
Tears pooled in the corners of my eyes when Solarte was announced and fans and players from both dugouts rose to their feet to cheer him. They broke free and streamed down my face when he lined a clean single between the Giants' shortstop and third baseman, the cheers of the crowd drowning out my sniffling as he pointed to the sky. He received another sustained ovation when Green brought in Travis Jankowski to run for him. It's a memory I will hold close to me for as long I have the ability to remember.
With Alexi Amarista having moved on to Colorado, his fellow countryman has become my favorite Friar, and it's comforting to know that he and his children have been taken care of financially for at least the next two years.