The St. Louis Cardinals excel at finding talent that fits their system and make up. They hope they found another perfect fit on Sunday after signing Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz to a major league contract.
According to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, the deal will be four years. but the financial terms are not known. USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who first reported the deal was complete, says Diaz will join the Cardinals for team workouts in Jupiter, FL. on Monday.
Diaz, 23, batted .315 with 12 HR, 11 SB in 270 at-bats (2012) playing for Los Naranjas de Villa Clara in Cuba. pic.twitter.com/nvaAqY8NpB
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 9, 2014
As we noted on Saturday when St. Louis announced a six-year contract extension for third baseman Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals are pretty much set in the infield entering the 2014 season. Diaz is a shortstop by trade, but the Cardinals already have Jhonny Peralta locked in to a four-year deal. Rookie Kolten Wong and veteran free agent Mark Ellis figure to share time at second base, with Carpenter and Allen Craig manning the corners.
Barring injury, this should lead to Diaz opening the season in the minor leagues, though as Passan notes, the Cardinals have a way of fitting multi-positional guys into their puzzle.
Aledmys Diaz's flexibility intrigued St. Louis. He can play both SS and 2B. Cardinals are always one of the best with multi-position guys.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 9, 2014
Diaz could probably use a few weeks to knock off some rust anyway. He hasn't played competitive ball since hitting 315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs in 270 at-bats during the 2011-12 season in Cuba. He also recently served a one-year suspension for falsifying age and identity information. In his case, he actually wanted to appear older so he would not be subject to MLB's spending restrictions for international players.
How he projects long-term is difficult to tell at this point. His bat appears close to major league ready, but his fielding has been a concern for teams that have scouted him this winter. The Cardinals could be thinking of a specific position, or they may just be thinking depth. Perhaps we’ll get a better feel once he begins playing in spring games, but all things considered there seems to be some upside in this relationship for both sides based on Diaz's offense and the Cardinals ability to develop and adapt.
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