by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There is no question that the Toronto Blue Jays needed depth in the middle infield, as both Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis have been incapable of staying on the field. In that regard Friday’s acquisition of Aledmys Diaz from the St. Louis Cardinals makes sense. He had clearly lost his role after stumbling through 2017 both in the Majors and at Triple-A:
- Triple-A – .253 with 4 HR and 26 RBI (187 PA)
- Majors – .259 with 7 HR and 20 RBI (301 PA)
The emergence of Paul DeJong made the move that much easier from a St. Louis perspective. For Toronto, they needed quality depth at both spots after their second baseman (.658) and shortstops (.656) combined for the fourth lowest OPS at their position. Can a change of scenery help Diaz rebound and bolster the production?
Diaz took a step back across the board last season, and while it didn’t show up in his strikeout rate (14.0%), his 10.7% SwStr% and 38.7% O-Swing% (up from 7.4% and 28.2%, respectively) indicate more of an issue. The difference was that he was seeing fewer “hard” pitches than during his rookie season, with opposing pitchers giving him a steady diet of breaking balls:
Can he make the adjustments remains to be seen, but a new voice in his ear isn’t going to hurt. Of course, even when breaking out in ’16 he has struggled to consistently hit the ball hard (16.0% career line drive rate) and with popups (13.3% IFFB%).
Questionable Approach + Low LD% + Elevated Pop Up Rate… That’s simply not a formula for success.
You can also question whether or not the power he showed in his rookie season is for real, with his HR/FB going from 12.6% to 7.7%. Considering his mark in the minors in ’15 was 10.7%, it’s easy to point to which number is closer to the truth.
This isn’t to say that Diaz has no chance of rebounding or being a productive option in Toronto. However without guaranteed playing time and significant questions hanging over the production he’s far from a given. He seems like an ideal streaming option who can get hot and produce big numbers, but as of today it’s a tough sell. Don’t bank on him making a significant impact in ’18, but be ready to roll with him for a short stretch if needed.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: