If my information is correct, today is the day that Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz turns 23 – which is a big deal for international free agents. Anybody under 23 falls under a different set of rules than anybody over 23, so for all intents and purposes Diaz is really entering free agency only today.
It was reported earlier that Diaz was going to work out for scouts on the 5th (that would be last Saturday) – but I haven’t heard any reports on who was actually in attendance. I do hope that the Detroit Tigers sent a representative – this is the kind of opportunity that they shouldn’t simply let slide. We don’t know much about Diaz – we typically don’t know much about any Cuban player’s real baseball aptitude. Cuban professional stats do exist, but nobody seems to put much stock in them so a guy like Diaz is going to be graded more like a potential NFL draft pick than like most baseball amateurs. That’s not really such a big deal.
What is such a big deal is that the Tigers are going to have two free agent middle infielders over the age of 30 following the 2013 season and that all of the middle infielders with potential are younger guys in the lower levels. The Tigers could really use a solid AAA prospect at short – not for organizational depth (though that is always relevant) but just to do what prospects normally do… to try to prove that they should be the guy to take over the position next year. Shortstops are not a dime a dozen, which is why the Tigers have been stuck with Jhonny Peralta there. Nobody wants to trade a decent AAA SS for Brennan Boesch, and probably not even for Rick Porcello (unless you get a sweet deal). Just look at what the D’Backs went through to get their hands on Didi Gregorius – a guy with some potential, but unlikely to ever be a star.
Aledmys Diaz is probably not going to be anything like 2012’s Cuban free agent sensation – Yoenis Cespedes – who helped propel the A’s to the playoffs. That’s fine, as long as he doesn’t require the same kind of cash to acquire. In Cespedes the A’s were taking a big gamble – committing a significant amount of money over a number of years for a guy who might be a star and might simply flop. The risks a much lower if you’re signing a guy to be a prospect, which is what I expect teams will be looking for in Aledmys Diaz. It’s also exactly what any team with a barren farm system – at least at the upper levels – and a little cash on hand needs.