Nearly two weeks ago, when MLBTR's Mike Axisa examined Melky Cabrera's future, about two-thirds of you predicted the Braves would not tender the ex-Yankee a contract this winter. Cabrera isn't the only non-tender candidate in Atlanta's outfield, however; the Braves will also have to decide whether or not they want to retain Matt Diaz.
Like Cabrera, Diaz has suffered a decline in production in 2010 (.237/.284/.433) following a solid 2009 campaign (.313/.390/.488). After recording a career-high 371 plate appearances in 2009, Diaz has seen less action this year, due to a thumb injury, his decline in performance, and the arrivals of Cabrera, Jason Heyward, and Eric Hinske. Even Diaz's ability to mash left-handed pitching has wavered a little, as his .814 OPS vs. southpaws is a sizable step down from his .906 career mark.
Entering his final year of arbitration, Diaz shouldn't be expensive, since he'd earn no more than a modest raise on this year's $2.55MM salary. Still, he'll turn 33 before the 2011 season begins, and he doesn't have the same defensive flexibility that Cabrera does – UZR has ranked him as a below-average defender for the past three seasons. While Diaz could rebound and prove to be an affordable fourth outfielder with some pop for the '11 Braves, the club may decide to look in a different direction. If the Braves were to non-tender Diaz, they'd have the option of putting that $3MM or so in savings toward an impact free agent bat.