Blue Jays add former all-star Diaz to infield mix
By Michael DiStefano
Canadian Baseball Network
After electing to non-tender Ryan Goins, the Toronto Blue Jays subsequently made a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night to bolster their infield depth by acquiring former National League All-star shortstop Aledmys Diaz.
The Blue Jays sent 2016 second-round pick J.B. Woodman to the Cardinals for the Santa Clara, Cuba, native.
Diaz, 27, earned himself a top-five position in the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year polling after sporting a .300 batting average with 17 homers and 65 RBI with the Cardinals.
It should be noted that his stunning freshman year was a bit of an outlier. Diaz’ best offensive season in the minors was in 2015 at triple-A where he hit .278.
Diaz resorted back to form in 2017 after his stellar 2016. Granted, he was dealing with an injury throughout the season. While nursing a thumb injury, Diaz was limited to just 79 games in his second season in the big leagues. The former all-star’s offensive production fell from a .300 batting average to just .258 with seven home runs and 20 RBI.
The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly been interested in finding a utility player, and after the departure of infielders Goins and Darwin Barney, a spot on the roster for a utility player like Diaz has opened up.
The right-handed shortstop has played primarily in the six spot on the diamond, but with Troy Tulowitzki manning the middle of the infield, Diaz will most likely need to make himself useful in other areas around the diamond.
The Santa Clara native has spent time at second and third base, as well as a hand full of games in the outfield so far in his 190-game major league career.
Another thing to consider with the acquisition is the length of club control on his contract.
Diaz still has nearly five years of service time available before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Therefore, he will only be able to make a limited amount money over the next few years through arbitration, which fits what the Blue Jays like to do as far as acquiring players with years of club control because it allows the team to keep the payroll low and keep the leverage on their side.
Diaz has shown potential with the bat in the past and the Blue Jays will hope he can revert back to his 2016 all-star level. He may not become a starter right away, but if he can be a reliable bat off the bench, and a dependable fielder, the Blue Jays should be satisfied with this addition.