Back in 2012 Swingin’ A’s staff writer Sean Davis wrote about Aledmys Diaz, a prized Cuban shortstop prospect, and the A’s reported interest as reported by San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. It’s nearly a year later and Diaz is still unsigned, but not because of a lack of possible suitors. Last week Diaz officially became an MLB Free Agent. He just now was granted free agency after being made ineligible to sign a year by MLB for falsifying his age. With Diaz now free to sign reported interest in the shortstop has grown immensely. Slusser again mentioned the A’s renewed interest in Diaz last week. What could Diaz bring to the table in production and value to the A’s? Do they have a legitimate shot?
On the production side of things Diaz is an unknown commodity. He brings a huge bat, but his defense is still in question (scouts are torn whether or not he will stay at shortstop or move over to second base). The best offensive statistics available for Diaz were from his final season in the Serie Nacional (Cuban professional baseball league) in which he slashed .315/.404/.500. While those numbers would be somewhat pedestrian for a corner fielder (left field, right field, first base, third base) in terms of a shortstop those numbers are huge. Diaz played last season in the Mexican summer and winter leagues to keep his consistency after defecting from Cuba.
In terms of value Diaz is again an unknown commodity. His cost will be developed as the market begins to develop. It’s been reported that at least ten teams have interest in Diaz meaning the cost will continue to rise as teams negotiate against each other. If the team that signs him can get him for four or five years at $7-$8 million and get around .290/.350/.400 production they will have found a huge bargain in an extremely limited and expensive shortstop market.
The real question here is does the A’s translate into good odds? Reports have mentioned the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals have the best shot at landing Diaz with the Toronto Blue Jays not far behind. However, if the international market is any indication to the A’s odds in this matter look no further then Yoenis Céspedes. The A’s were seen as long shots at best, but still made it happen.
The A’s have a near ready shortstop in Addison Russell as I mentioned last week. The one thing that has separated the A’s over the last two seasons has been their depth. Signing Diaz would allow the A’s to move Diaz to second and pair with Russell, as well as keep Jed Lowrie on the bench, as a part of a platoon with Russell and Diaz, or as a valuable trade chip. The return on an offensive-minded shortstop that is proven in the Major Leagues would bring back a huge haul, replenishing a diminishing farm system. The chances of landing him may seem slim, but never count GM Billy Beane.