Should The Cardinals Pursue Aledmis Diaz?
In late July of 2012, Cuban shortstop Aledmis Diaz disappeared at the same time as his team was beating the United States in a baseball tournament in the Netherlands. Diaz was following the path to freedom, fame, and fortune forged by players like Jose Canseco, Yeonis Cespedes, and Aroldis Chapman.
Since his July defection – radio silence.
Diaz has now emerged from the darkness to capture the imaginations of major league general managers eager to land a hot property. Diaz was granted free agent status by MLB two weeks ago. Since then, we’ve learned that the 22 year-old has been hiding and working out in Mexico since his defection.
The upside for anyone signing Diaz is the fact that the shortstop is near-major league ready. Unlike Chapman, who required extensive minor league work, Diaz shows all of the attributes of a major league caliber star right now. Here are his Cuban numbers:
Look at his on-base percentages! Mouth-watering, top-of-the-lineup offense! In addition, Diaz’s arm is rated at above-average while his defense (at shortstop) is okay-to-poor. Just think of him as a healthy Joe Mauer with the defense of Ryan Theriot.
There are quite a few teams who will likely take a long look at Diaz’s combination of talents, and the Cardinals need to be one of them. Ryan Jackson (AAA) has yet to produce meaningful results with his toolset, and party boy Jake Lemmerman (AA) is more concerned with a stroke other than his batting version. Meanwhile, talented Greg Garcia (AA) seems lost in the organizational depth chart (although a repeat of last year’s numbers might change that). Simply put, the Cardinals have few options for the left side of their infield.
Will the Cardinals give Diaz a chance? Traditionally, the organization hasn’t shown much interest in Cuban defectors, which is odd considering their strong presence in other Latin American countries.
Diaz will turn 23 years old in January, the age, according to MLB rules, that a player must reach before attaining free agency. Diaz has a workout for ML scouts scheduled for January 5th in Mexico. Hopefully the Cardinals will be among those interested teams to see Cuba’s latest defected talent.