Let’s Assume That the Dodgers Have Interest in Cuban Shortstop Aledmys Diaz

When the Dodgers won the bidding for Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig and Korean pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu in 2012, the immediate reactions were of excitement — after all, it was beyond thrilling to see the formerly cheapskate team start flexing that new financial muscle to outspend other interested clubs and start rebuilding a formerly barren international talent pipeline.

Of course, the second reaction was usually, “great! Wait, who?” Only the most hardcore fans had ever even heard of either more than a few days prior to their signing, and so we all found ourselves in a bit of a scramble to learn as much as we could about just who it was the Dodgers had committed so many millions to.

Today, we’re going to try to get out ahead of that issue with the latest hot import, this time with Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz. I have absolutely no idea if the Dodgers are in on him, but MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that at least ten teams have shown interest in Diaz, so let’s be honest with ourselves: yes, the Dodgers are interested. Just in case it’s not clear, I say that because the Dodgers are in on everyone, not because I really know for sure.

What makes Diaz especially interesting is that like Puig (who signed in the final days of the old CBA) and Ryu (who was posted by his Korean team), he isn’t subject to the restrictive international budget limits imposed by the new CBA. That’s because he turned 23 earlier this month and had played at least three years in Cuba before leaving, and that makes him a true free agent. Whether you consider that a “loophole” or an “opportunity” is a matter of opinion; all that matters is that means the Dodgers (or any other team) could offer him as much as they want, and if the Dodgers really want him, we all know they won’t be outspent.

So should they want him? The easy answer is “yes”, because as Chris Jackson showed us recently, the Dodger system depth at shortstop is just beyond barren, assuming that Corey Seager is still going to end up at third base some day.

But obviously having a hole isn’t the same thing as Diaz being the right guy to fill said hole, and as you’d expect, scouting reports from Cuba are sparse and difficult to trust. Sanchez, back in November, described Diaz thusly:

Known for his ability to hit for power and average, Diaz is considered an average runner with an above-average arm.

What’s helpful here is that since Diaz is able to sign with every team, we’ve had a bunch of team bloggers poking around asking the same question for their clubs, so let’s borrow a bit of their research here to flesh out the picture a little further.

Viva el Birdos:

Luckily, we do have a little more to go on. Clay Davenport, a major part of Baseball Prospectus back when all of us were reading Moneyball in hardcover, uploaded a decade of Cuban League stats last year just in time for Cespedes-mania, with Diaz among them. After I grabbed Diaz’s 2012 stats from this very Google-Translate-able fansite, I was left with these four half-seasons to go on:

AB H 2B 3B HR BB K RBI AVG OBP SLG
2008-09 276 94 20 2 5 25 31 39 .341 .401 .482
2009-10 262 74 8 2 3 20 28 32 .282 .349 .363
2010-11 282 83 16 1 7 58 23 45 .294 .437 .433
2011-12 270 85 10 2 12 36 25 49 .315 .404 .500
08-12 1090 336 54 7 27 139 107 165 .308 .401 .444

So what we seem to have there is a a guy with good on-base skills and and some amount of power; while 12 homers may not seem like much last year, note his number of at-bats in the shortened Cuban season.

As for his defense, well, who knows, but here’s Diaz in some horrible orange uniforms showing off his arm:

It’s difficult if not impossible to guess what he might sign for; two recent Cuban shortstops each received four year deals — $8.5m for Jose Iglesias with Boston and $10m for Adeiny Hechavarria in Toronto — though they’re both almost exactly the same age as Diaz is now, meaning they signed when they were younger and further away from the bigs. (From what I can tell, Diaz is thought to be not all that far away from being MLB-ready, but would still need some time to acclimate in the minors, so no, he’s not going to be the guy who prevents us from having Hanley Ramirez at shortstop on Opening Day.)

As it often does in these situations, we’re left in a position where we have to trust the best judgement of the team when it comes to bidding — or not bidding — on a player like Diaz, just because we have no idea what to make of him. There’s really no way any of us can have an informed opinion at this point, other than to think he’s worth paying attention to simply because other teams are.

The next step is a showcase near the end of the month that was originally to have taken place a few weeks ago. I can’t say for sure the Dodgers will be in attendance, but… yeah, they’ll be there. And if they like what they see, it’s not going to be money or budget limits that prevents them from adding more international talent to an organization that sorely needs it.

366 comments
efb
efb

stuuuuupid

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

Rosenthal just said Seattle and Felix are close to a 4 year 100 mm extension on MLB network

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

RT @DodgersGM: #Dodgers sign 77-year-old Sandy Koufax to a one-year deal and announce him as opening day starter. Aaron Harang to be DFA'd.

Jobu
Jobu

Sign him!

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

Goddamnit! No AGONZ at ST! LAME

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

RT @JimBowdenESPNxm: Delmon Young goes from a $6.75m contract in 2012 to $750,000 in 2013 because of off-the-field issues....lesson and message for all

 

Also the "being terrible at baseball," but whatever.

The Monocle
The Monocle

@Mike Petriello Don Zimmer for infield platoon. DFA Uribe. Trade Dee, Punto and SVS for Ethier platoon bat.

The Monocle
The Monocle

@EephusBlue isn't there an LA vs Mexico ST game on the schedule?

Paulstralia
Paulstralia

 @Mike Petriello is the lesson something like "be a seriously terrible person. still have 6.75 million dollars in the bank"? 

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson

 @The Monocle  @EephusBlue Yes, Weds, March 6, a Dodgers split-squad plays Mexico at Camelback. Also, the WBC is happening in Arizona, so you can always buy tix to USA-Mexico or any of the other games (though all the Mexico games, in particular, figure to be sellouts).

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

 @Scruffy hi. 

 

also, no Heddy Topper til Thursday per a tweet from the brewer. just fyi since you mentioned going wednesday. 

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson

 @capnsparrow  @The Monocle  @EephusBlue If I go, I have to pay my own way. Examiner don't pay shit. This year I probably won't go, just due to a lack of money in my bank account. While I've picked up Lobo basketball home games as a freelancer, HS sports for the local paper here have dried up as a revenue source. I need to find a day job, but ABQ is hurting right now. Lots of friends are packing up and leaving. As a wise man once said, "It's a shite state of affairs, Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world isn't going to do a fucking bit of good."

JustinDrummond
JustinDrummond

@DavePomerantz @EephusBlue @Mike Petriello @Disgruntled Goat @Lobo @tenaciousjdd This is true. I'm still kicking myself.

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

 @EephusBlue  @Mike Petriello  @Disgruntled Goat   @Lobo Don't be Eephus they are just people who are better at baseball than we are. It's like you can do stuff they will never be able to do. It's just nobody televises research experiments. So nobody knows about it the tireless hours of documenting and trial and error involved.

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

 @Mike Petriello Yeah I know. I imagine he'd be the most down to earth player I will ever meet.

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

 @Mike Petriello hah. that just means I'll be even more star struck. If I could get him to autograph a shirt I will faint

EephusBlue
EephusBlue moderator

 @Disgruntled Goat   @Lobo  @Mike Petriello now that i think on it, ST kinda blows as far as position players.

 

Still, Greinke, Kershaw, Kemp, AJ. Also get a look at Crawford.

 

Maybe I can hand deliver the AJ minifig to AJ