Shi Davidi of Sportsnet tells us that the Blue Jays have acquired 27 year old infielder Aledmys Diaz from the St.Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfield prospect JB Woodman. Diaz appeared in 190 games over the past two seasons, and will add to Toronto’s middle infield depth along with Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis. The move comes just minutes after the team decided to non-tender Ryan Goins.
Diaz enjoyed a breakout rookie season in 2016, launching 17 home runs along with a .300 batting average and .369 on-base percentage in 460 plate appearances (133 wRC+). His success at the plate quickly diminished in his sophomore campaign, as he plummeted to a .259/.290/.392 batting line (78 wRC+) in 79 games. Defensively, he is regarded as a below average defender at shortstop in terms of both defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating.
Woodman, 22, was selected by the Blue Jays in the second round of the 2016 Amateur Draft. He posted a .240/.320/.378 batting line over 96 games in Lansing last season, and his strikeout rate was a significant problem at 38%.
Diaz boasts much better numbers against right-handed pitchers over his short career, despite the fact that he is a right-handed hitter. While he’s spent just four innings at second base during this span, his glove should play a little bit better at an easier defensive position, and it is worth noting that his batting average on balls in play dropped from .312 to .282 last season. Given the Blue Jays complete lack of offence from the middle infield last season, even a poor season from Diaz’s standards could represent a significant upgrade at the plate.
Additional considerations (Matt W)
- 2017 was the last year of the original contract Diaz signed with St. Louis, worth $8-million including a $2-million signing bonus and $2-million salary for 2017. While the Blue Jays can unilaterally renew Diaz’ contract like any other 40-man player without enough service time for arbitration, it won’t be at or near the minimum as usual. The Collective Agreement only allows for a maximum 20% cut in salary from year-to-year (this doesn’t apply to free agent deals), so they will have to pay Diaz at least $1.6-million in 2018. It will be interesting to see if they essentially play hard ball and do that, or just renew him at his 2017 salary.
- As Diaz signed a major league contract, he had option years used in 2014, 2015, and 2017 and would normally be out-of-options in 2018. However, like fellow Cuban Kendrys Morales, he should be eligible for a fourth option year in 2018 as it will only be his fifth professional season. That proves the Jays with some additional flexibility over the non-tendered Ryan Goins, who perhaps co-incidentally, projected for a salary in a very similar range as Diaz.