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Cardinals sign Cuban free agent to contract

AP - Sports

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals signed Cuban free agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz to a major league contract and he'll report to spring training on Monday.

The Cardinals were among a number of teams, including the Yankees, who held private workouts for the right-handed hitting Diaz and the deal is believed to be for $15-20 million for four years.

The team planned a news conference for Monday.

''We have been following Aledmys for quite some time,'' general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. ''His signing marks a significant benchmark for the Cardinals in the international arena and we are excited to have reached this agreement.''

The deal came a day after St. Louis signed third baseman and leadoff man Matt Carpenter to a six-year, $52 million contract. During the offseason, the Cardinals committed $53 million over four years to sign free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta, so they could face a position logjam in the near future.

The 23-year-old Diaz batted .315 with 12 home runs and 11 steals in 270 at-bats in 2012 for Los Naranjas de Villa Clara, Cuba's highest professional league, which has produced Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman.

The Cardinals anticipate the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Diaz will start the year at the high minor league level.

Diaz has represented Cuba in several international tournaments, including the 2010 World University Championship games in Tokyo, Japan, and lives in Mexico City.

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