The Orioles have claimed first baseman Lewin Diaz off waivers from the Pirates, reports Craig Mish of SportsGrid and the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
Diaz, 26, was a fairly high-profile amateur signing by the Twins back in 2013, inking a $1.4MM bonus and headlining their 2013-14 international free agency class. He ranked among Minnesota’s top prospects for several years due to his power potential and a plus glove at first base, but the Twins flipped him to Miami in a 2019 trade that netted them veteran reliever Sergio Romo and pitching prospect Chris Vallimont.
With the Marlins, Diaz elevated his profile early on before scuffling through parts of three Major League auditions. He’s logged big league time each season since 2020 but produced only a .181/.227/.340 batting line with a 28.9% strikeout rate against just a 5.5% walk rate. Despite his 6’4″ frame and considerable raw power potential, Diaz hasn’t yet hit the ball with much authority in the Majors; he does have 13 home runs in 343 plate appearances, but Diaz’s average exit velocity (88.1 mph), barrel rate (8%) and hard-hit rate (32.6%) are all pedestrian, at best. He’s also been quite prone to pop-ups, with more of his fly-balls (14.4%) registering as infield flies than as home runs (11.7%).
That said, Diaz only just turned 26 years old and has at least one demonstrably excellent skill that’ll play at the Major League level: his glove. He’s only logged 753 Major League innings at first base but still has eye-popping totals in Defensive Runs Saved (16) and Outs Above Average (9). The offensive profile is still quite clearly a work in progress, but Diaz is a .250/.325/.504 hitter in two Triple-A seasons.
The Orioles have been looking for a left-handed bat who can play some first base and perhaps in the outfield corners, per MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Diaz won’t help in the latter regard, but he’ll give them a lefty bat who can spend some time at first base — if he makes it to Spring Training on the 40-man roster, that is. He’s already been jettisoned from a pair of teams so far this offseason, and it’s possible the O’s consider him a temporary safety net while they continue to hunt for a more established option (as was seemingly the case with the Pirates, who designated Diaz for assignment after signing Carlos Santana).
Diaz is out of minor league options, so he’ll either have to make a team’s Opening Day roster next year or eventually be passed through waivers unclaimed, at which point that team could then stash him Triple-A without committing a 40-man roster spot.