The Orioles announced that first baseman Lewin Díaz has cleared outright waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. He will stick in the organization but without taking up a roster spot.
This move will finally bring some semblance of stability to a wild offseason for Díaz, who recently turned 26. He began the offseason with the Marlins but was designated for assignment in November. He was claimed off waivers by the Pirates but they then designated him a week later. The Orioles claimed him in early December but only kept him on the roster for another three weeks, giving him his third DFA in the span of about a month. He was traded to the Braves for cash, though they gave him his fourth DFA of the winter about a week after that. The Orioles claimed him a second time in early January and then designated him once more last week, though Díaz has finally passed through unclaimed this time. Though Díaz would have probably liked to have held a roster spot, he now at least knows which team’s Spring Training camp he’ll be reporting to next month.
The O’s have seemingly been hellbent on stashing some left-handed non-roster depth this winter. They acquired Ryan O’Hearn from the Royals for cash considerations and later passed him through waivers and have now got Díaz through as well. Both those players will seemingly be battling each other for the right to get back onto the roster at some point when injuries or underperformance from other players make it necessary. For now, the club will be going into the season with right-handed hitting Ryan Mountcastle as the primary option at first base, with the designated hitter role likely going to Anthony Santander or one of the other outfielders.
Díaz has been somewhat inconsistent in his career thus far, with his strengths making him just appealing enough to get interest from multiple clubs around the league but his weaknesses preventing him from clinging to a roster spot for long. On the strong side, he’s an excellent defender at first base. In 112 big league games thus far, he’s registered 16 Defensive Runs Saved and nine Outs Above Average, while Ultimate Zone Rating has given him a 3.4. He’s also hit very well in the minors over the past couple of seasons. In 156 Triple-A games in 2021 and 2022, he’s hit 39 home runs and produced a batting line of .250/.325/.504 for a wRC+ of 115.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to come close to that in the majors thus far. Through 343 plate appearances in the big leagues, he’s hit 13 home runs but walked at a paltry 5.5% rate and slashed .181/.227/.340 for a wRC+ of 54. He’s also now out of options, meaning he provides less roster flexibility going forward.
Those factors have all combined to send Díaz on the strange ordeal he’s endured over the past few months. Several teams have been enticed by his glove and strong minor league offense, but his major league track record has continually squeezed him off rosters. After months of being passed around, the next steps are much more clear. He’ll report to the O’s and try to get back to the big leagues, either for Opening Day or at some point as the season goes along.