With the St. Louis Cardinals signing Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz over a couple days ago, the details of his contract have come out, and it is much lower than was originally predicted. Initial reports said that the deal was for four years and $15-20 million dollars (and some thought he'd get a contract worth even more than that). However, it turns out the Cardinals got Diaz for just $8 million over four years.
If he could have been had for so cheap (or even a little more), should the Yankees have taken a chance on Diaz? His price very well could have dropped precipitously once the Yankees (and potentially other suitors) passed on him, but still, few people were predicting he could be had for such a low price. Some expected his deal would be somewhat comparable to those of Alexander Guerrero (4 years, $28 million) and Erisbel Arruebarruena (5 years, $25 million), but obviously, Diaz didn't come anywhere close to that.
Diaz hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 homers and 11 steals in 313 plate appearances during his final season in Cuba (2011-12). This sounds good, but according to Joe Kehoskie, a baseball consultant who formerly was an agent and represented players from Cuba over the years, the Cuban National Series now amounts to little more than a High-A league. Kehoskie also said during his interview with Viva El Birdos that Diaz will see better pitchers "in his first week in Double-A than he faced over his last year or two in Cuba." Based on a less-than-stellar league inflating his stats, Kehoskie said that Diaz would likely have to move to second base, as his defense at short isn't that good, and he projects to be no more than an average hitter (and he says that may even be wishful thinking).
However, Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel had a more optimistic take on Diaz. He described the Cuban infielder as having "a level, fluid stroke and above average bat speed," and that he and other scouts grade his bat at about 55-60 "and project a .270 or .280 batting average" (not too shabby for a middle-infielder). While his power is below average and his defense at short is also nothing to be too excited about, McDaniel thought he could be average to above average defensively at second base, as well as use his speed to steal 15-20 bases.
This is by far the most positive scouting report I could find, however. Still, I wouldn't have minded seeing the Yankees take a shot on Diaz. He might not turn out well, but for $10 million over four years, or a little more, I think it would've been a risk worth taking. He clearly could've been had for much less than everyone originally thought, and he could turn out to be a solid defensive second baseman and a serviceable hitter. He probably would not have been the Derek Jeter replacement the Yankees will need after next year, but with a system relatively void of middle-infield prospects, taking a shot on Diaz would've been worth the risk. For a team that just shelled out $500 million in the offseason and made it clear that Plan 189 was dead, $2-3 million per year is clearly just a drop in the bucket for a financial juggernaut like the Yankees. Signing Diaz would've been the low-risk, high reward type move that could have resulted in - optimistically - the starting second baseman for the foreseeable future, and - perhaps more realistically - at least a solid utility guy off the bench that can play three infield positions (he can play second, shortstop, and third base).
Who knows what the Yankees saw in Diaz's workout for the team (it must have been truly terrible). Still, if the Yankees could've gotten Diaz for close to the price the Cardinals did, they should've made it happen.