The next “name” Cuban defector may sign as soon the next couple of days. According to multiple reports, infielder Aledmys Diaz could be signing soon. In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals will make Diaz, 23, an offer within the next 24 hours, according to Joe Strauss. Other teams are believed to be interested as well, but their identities are unclear at this time.
Diaz recently worked out for interested teams at San Diego’s facility, and at least one report indicated there were more than a dozen teams in attendance. That report, from the San Diego Union-Tribune also suggested that Diaz could land a deal in the $20 to $30 million range. Diaz is a shortstop by trade, but he likely play elsewhere in the infield.
Diaz is not a new name around these parts – you may remember him as the Cuban defector who got dinged by MLB for allegedly falsifying his age … in the older direction. Diaz allegedly tried to say he was 23 last year, instead of this year, so that he could sign last year without being subject to any international spending restrictions.
Around that time, the Cubs were frequently rumored as suitors. Now I’m not so sure of the fit, what with the emergence of Arismendy Alcantara, the explosion of Javier Baez, the drafting of Kris Bryant, and the acquisition of Mike Olt. Although I suppose you could ask the same “fit” questions with respect to the Cardinals, given an infield that’s pretty set for the next few years if all of Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, and Kolten Wong stay healthy. (Maybe Peralta ends up moving eventually? But he’s really only worth his contract at shortstop … )
To be sure, the idea of picking up any 23-year-old talent for just money is an attractive idea for a team in asset-gathering mode. Diaz would be, for the Cubs, another nice asset to add to the stable. But when it comes to limited resources, the Cubs might be best served rolling over some of their dollars into possible pitchers later in the year (both traditional free agents, and possible internationally available talents like Kenta Maeda, or the next hot Cuban defector). I suppose it depends on how impressed they have been by Diaz, and what the plans are for the infield, long-term.
With respect to the current crop of Cuban defectors, there are several whom I see as good – maybe better – fits for the Cubs right now, including pitchers Raicel Iglesias and Odrisamer Despaigne, outfielder/infielder Rusney Castillo, and catcher Yenier Bello.
We’ll see what happens with Diaz, but I’d be surprised if the Cubs were still involved at this point.