Last week Susan Slusser was saying that it was all but a forgone conclusion that Stephen Drew would ultimately resign with the Oakland Athletics on a 1 year contract with another option. We haven’t heard a peep about it since. So while I may still be the likely scenario, we really can’t bank on anything happening at this point. I’ve spent a bulk of this offseason perusing the Major Leagues and the free agent market for the next A’s shortstop, and now we have one more candidate for the position. Another Cuban defector by the name of Aledmys Diaz has officially become a free agent.
Diaz is just 22 years old, and turns 23 in January so it’s likely he won’t sign until then because he will no longer be subject to international free agent spending restrictions. Diaz is supposed to be fairly close to ready if not ready right now for the Major Leagues, so he could be a viable option for the A’s if the others don’t work out.
Diaz is said to be “Known for his ability to hit for power and average, Diaz is considered an average runner with an above-average arm.” (From Jesse Sanchez on MLB.com) If he can hold down the position, he could supplant Addison Russell as the shortstop of the future for the Athletics. Russell could end up projecting as a third baseman anyway, and he and Diaz could hold down the left side of the infield together for years to come.
It seems somewhat far fetched that the A’s would pursue Diaz, but considering the situation they’re in right now, they aren’t exactly in a position to neglect any options when it comes to shortstops. This isn’t to be misconstrued as a call for the Athletics to sign Diaz, but simply a call for them to do their due diligence. The market for him won’t truly pick up until January when he turns that magical number of 23 and gets to reap the benefits of being restriction free.
Much like Yoenis Cespedes this time last year, Diaz is an unknown quantity as far as the Major Leagues is concerned. But there is no doubt that Cuba produces supremely talented baseball players, so any defectors have to be appealing to all teams. If the A’s were interested in Diaz, they might be able to use Cespedes as a selling point. It’s almost impossible to predict what exactly Diaz would be looking for, but one could assume the chance to play everyday at shortstop, and be a teammate of one of the most recent and successful Cuban defectors has to be appealing.
The painstaking search for the next shorstop of the A’s continues on with no clear direction as of this moment. Diaz is yet another possible road for Billy Beane to explore, and I hope he does, he just might find something special.