Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Yankees are entering the 2014 season with major question marks throughout their infield. Two of these question marks are Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts. If either of these players go down with an injury, the Yankees could be in serious trouble. Especially if Jeter is the one to get injured.

Because of the Yankees lack of major league ready depth, many have proposed the team go after Stephen Drew. While I have suggested they should sign Drew in the past, they do not seem interested in doing so.

Instead, they seem to be focusing on building depth by signing international free agent Aledmys Diaz.

Diaz is a 23-year-old Cuban export that has spent the past season suspended from baseball for lying about his age -- he lied and said he was 23 so he could sign without being restricted by the MLB's international spending limit. This suspension really helped the Yankees, as now they can sign him without penalty.

According to recent reports, the Yankees are among the many suitors of Diaz. Jon Morosi for Fox Sports recently stated that the Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants all sent scouts to Diaz's most recent showcase. Out of these teams ,I only really see the Yankees, Cardinals, Bluejays, and Giants as likely destinations based off of need.

After signing a couple of Cuban infielders, the Dodgers do not seem likely to target Diaz. This is good news because the Dodgers are one of the few teams that can outbid the Yankees. Even if they do not bid on Diaz, the Dodgers influence his price because they overpaid for Alex Guerrero. This might inflate Diaz's value, and reports from MLB.com Jesse Sanchez suggest that he can get $20-30 million.

Below is Ben Badler's scouting report for Diaz.

Age questions and unblocking issues aside, scouting reports on Diaz’s talent remain modest. Though Diaz has played shortstop in Cuba, scouts have said he doesn’t have the lateral range, quickness or footwork to stay at the position. Diaz has shown some ability with the bat, hitting .315/.404/.500 in 313 plate appearances for Villa Clara in his final season in Cuba, albeit in a high-offensive environment in which he ranked 30th in the league in OBP and tied for 20th in slugging.

Based off this year old report, it seems like the $20-30 million dollar figure makes some sense. If the Yankees do choose to sign him he they should follow the Dodger's lead, and give him most of the money as a bonus. This will eventually help with the luxary tax.

Money aside, this would be a huge signing for the Yankees. The teams youngest position player is close to 30 years old. Diaz, who would probably ready by the middle of the season is only 23. Even if he takes a full season to get ready he's the type of player that can help this team get younger, without having to rebuild. The Yankees need Diaz because their best shortstop prospect is in A-ball, and they don't know what kind of prospects they have at second.

While the team would still have room for Drew, if they could only get one it may make sense to get the younger player. The Yankees pitching staff is made up of a lot of young options, but right now Scott Sizemore might be their youngest starter. Sizemore is 29, which shows just how desperate the team is for young blood.

According to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com the Cuban shortstop will begin listening to offers on February 18th, and hopes to sign on February 21-22. The Yankees have already committed big money to international free agents this season, and Diaz would be a great addition to that pool.


Josh Sabo is a Minor League writer for Yanks Beat Blog.


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