The St. Louis Cardinals and Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz have agreed to a deal, the team announced Sunday:
The St. Louis Cardinals have signed Cuban free-agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz. Diaz will report to Cardinals Spring Training camp on Monday.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 9, 2014
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that one reason the Cardinals opted to push hard for Diaz is his ability to play multiple positions:
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
General manager John Mozeliak commented on Diaz in a release on the team website:
"We have been following Aledmys for quite some time," general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement released Sunday. "His signing marks a significant benchmark for the Cardinals in the international arena, and we are excited to have reached this agreement."
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports had more info on Diaz's deal:
Source: Diaz deal with #STLCards is $8M for four years.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 10, 2014
Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com has a full scouting report of Diaz up, projecting him to be an above-average hitter (between .260 and .280) who can hit a lot of line drives with fringy power, though McDaniel isn't as high on Diaz's defense at shortstop, believing him to be a better fit at second base:
Diaz can play shortstop in a pinch, which gives him value to clubs that think his bat isn't enough to start, but his arm strength is just average (a little short for that throw from the hole) and his range isn't good enough to make up for it.
This marks the second time in as many days the Cardinals have been in the news for a signing. On Saturday, they re-signed Matt Carpenter, who has also played multiple positions in his career, to a six-year deal, according to Rosenthal:
Source: Carpenter’s six-year, $52M deal with #STLCards includes $18.5M club option or $2M buyout for 2020.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 8, 2014
Diaz was prevented from signing with any Major League Baseball team until Feb. 19 after reportedly presenting a false date of birth last year. Ben Badler of Baseball America reported that Diaz had documents saying he was 23, born on Jan. 8, 1990, and exempt from international spending pools, allowing him to sign for more money.
However, as Badler's report also notes, Diaz's date of birth had been listed on the Cuban roster from an event in 2012 as Aug. 1, 1991. Another story from the Serie Nacional (Cuba's top baseball league) website listed his date of birth as Aug. 1, 1990.
Whatever his real date of birth is, the matter appears to have been settled by MLB and opened the door for his deal with the Cardinals.
Diaz's major league contract suggests the Cardinals view him as not far from being ready to play in St. Louis every day. It's an interesting deal to make, because Kolten Wong is ready to be the starting second baseman in 2014 and Jhonny Peralta just signed a four-year deal to play shortstop.
Of course, Peralta's limitations as a shortstop could open the door for Diaz to take over in the not-too-distant future.