After evaluating Aledymys Diaz at a private workout today, the Cardinals front office is prepared to make an offer to the free agent Cuban shorstop,Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch reports.
Diaz, 23, recently established residency in Mexico and is now eligible to sign with any major league club, although his agent, Jamie Torres, has stated that he can only play in Spring Training B games until all his paperwork goes through.
The Cardinals are not the only team interested in the young shortstop; scouts from over 20 teams attended his showcase at the Padres’ Spring Training facility last month, including representatives of the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Giants. Despite the large number of interested teams, a deal could be imminent for Diaz, with his Torres telling the dispatch that “he is prepared to move quickly.” Although Diaz isn’t quite Yasiel Puig or Jose Abreu caliber, he could still command a contract worth between 20 and 30 million dollars, according to U-T Padres. Just last week, the Dodgers gave a reported 25 million to fellow Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena.
Unlike, Arruebarruena, Diaz’s calling card is his bat. A right handed hitter, Diaz stands 6’1, 185 lbs and has a propensity for getting on base and hitting for modest amounts of power. During the 2011-2012 season, his last in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, the then 21 year old hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs in 270 at bats, numbers that are consistent with his stats from the rest of his career. He has an advanced approach at the plate and walked more times (35) than he struck out (25).
His defense at short, however, is suspect and some scouts doubt he will be able to remain at the position at the major league level. Still, he should be a viable second or third baseman at least, and the ability to spot start at short is a valuable asset in and of itself.
The question of when he will bring these tools to the majors is still up in the air. His agent insists that Diaz will be ready after standard spring training reps, but that’s a rather biased source and he will probably need some minor league seasoning before he is ready to play at the game’s highest level. Ultimately, it may come down to which team he signs with. If he chooses St. Louis, whose infield is booked solid, then he may have to grow acccustommed to travelling in the comforting confines of Triple-A team bus. If the Yankees, who have pressing needs at both second and third base, grab him, then he could be in the starting lineup as soon as Opening Day, 2014.