The Blue Jays have struck a trade to acquire shortstop Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals, per an announcement from the Toronto organization (h/t Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, on Twitter). Outfield prospect J.B. Woodman is heading back to St. Louis in return.
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This time last year, such a deal would not have seemed possible. In 2016, Diaz turned in a sparkling rookie campaign. Over 460 plate appearances, he slashed .300/.369/.510 with 17 home runs. Diaz went down on strikes just sixty times while drawing 41 walks.
Alas, he was not able to sustain that surprising outbreak in his sophomore season. Diaz limped to a .259/.290/.392 batting line in 301 trips to the plate. He was ultimately demoted to Triple-A, where he watched as Paul DeJong took off and dashed any hopes of a near-term return.
Beyond the questions at the plate, there are also some questions regarding Diaz’s defensive work, at least at short. He has drawn mixed reviews from UZR and DRS which, in the aggregate, paint him as at least a somewhat below-average defender at that challenging spot.
For the Jays, Diaz represents a possible solution to the team’s depth issues up the middle. While Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis will likely enter camp as presumptive starters, they have each struggled with significant injury issues in recent years. Diaz, then, not only adds another option but also represents a potential buy-low candidate.
In exchange, Toronto parted with its second-round pick from the 2016 draft. Woodman, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who’ll soon turn 23, had a solid debut season at the low A level but struggled upon reaching Class A in 2017. In 414 plate appearances, he slashed just .240/.320/.378 while striking out 157 times. Needless to say, his offensive game will require quite a bit of polishing, but the Cards can certainly afford to be patient with him.