Yankees International Free Agent Target: Aledmys Diaz

Koji Watanabe

There is a lot of interest surrounding Aledmys Diaz, a Cuban infielder who had previously been suspended by MLB from signing with a team, until February 19, for falsifying his age. The Yankees were among the teams scouting Diaz at a showcase in Mexico over the summer. While he is a shortstop, many like him as a second baseman, and with the Yankees losing Robinson Cano, they could be even more interested in bringing him in if he can make it to the majors relatively soon.

While many international players falsify their age to appear younger, Diaz wanted to appear older because, according to the CBA, "Cuban players who are at least 23 and have three or more years of professional experience in Cuba (which Diaz has) are exempt from the [international spending] pools and can sign without restrictions." Pretending to be 23 when he was actually 22, would allow more teams to sign him at a higher cost.

But what do we know about him? He is a 23-year-old right-handed shortstop, coming in at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. While he is known for "his ability to hit for power and average, Diaz is [also] considered an average runner with an above-average arm."

According to CBS Sports:

Diaz hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs in 270 at-bats during the 2011-12 season in Cuba, his last before defecting. He hit .308/.401/.444 from 2008-12. Reports on his defense are mixed, which is why some teams expect him to move to the other side of the bag.

Looking at his statistics over his career in Cuba, he seems to have a middling bat. Dan Moore of Viva El Birdos looked into Diaz back in January, declaring "The Davenport Translations, an attempt to translate his numbers into an MLB context, help a little-from 07-08 (in which Diaz drew 32 at-bats) to 10-11, they make him look like a punchier Daniel Descalso, with a line of .258/.320/.353."

That amounts to a .673 OPS, which essentially matches Brandon Crawford's 2.2 WAR 2013 season. In a less positive comparison, his OPS over those four years is just a few points lower than Alex Gonzalez, who amounted to a mere 3.0 WAR from 2010 to 2013, though he has has minimal playing time over the last two seasons. The next players on the list in front of Gonzalez are Zack Cozart (5.2 WAR) and Elvis Andrus (12.9 WAR), so perhaps Aledmys Diaz could end up having similar value.

If the Yankees choose to move him to second base, he would sit right between Jose Altuve (1.3 WAR) and Dan Uggla (0.5 WAR) in qualified MLB second baseman. He matches Sean Rodriguez (6.0 WAR) in OPS over the last four years and is also just above Gordon Beckham (3.0 WAR).

It would seem that, whether he is a shortstop or second baseman, the strength of his glove will be very important to his final value. If the Yankees believe he can maintain elite-level defense he could be worth signing, otherwise he'd probably just amount to a Quadruple-A player.

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