St. Louis Cardinals: Is it time to extend Aledmys Diaz?
The St. Louis Cardinals extended Kolten Wong in March of 2016 and might be regretting it at this point. With Aledmys Diaz’s performance this season, he is begging for an extension.
One of the major surprises this St. Louis Cardinals season is the performance of Aledmys Diaz. Last year, Diaz was designated for assignment to make a roster spot available during which he passed through all major league teams without being claimed. That would not happen this season, and nor should it.
To his credit, Aledmys worked hard in the off-season and reported to the St. Louis Cardinals spring training ready to show his stuff. During spring he was impressive and many of us championed for him to make the roster out of camp. This, initially, did not happen yet he was added to the roster before the first game of the season thanks to injury.
This addition allowed Aledmys to show that his spring performance was not by accident and was, in actuality, the player he was, is, and has shown capable of retaining. Before I suggest a move that I feel would be wise, let’s look back at the extension provided to Kolten Wong.
In March of 2016, the St. Louis Cardinals provided Wong a five-year extension for a total value of $25.5MM or $5.1MM AAV. This was lauded as a steal, and it is quite frankly. In addition to the five years, Wong has a $12.5MM option for a sixth year.
Fast-forward a few months and the St. Louis Cardinals fans have fallen out of vogue with Wong. This falling out of faith is due in large part to Wong’s lacking performance that had him sent to Memphis for some re-calibration. During his time in Memphis, Wong learned how to play center field as a way of adding/maintaining value in this extended player.
Wong would likely still be experimenting with center field if not for the injuries to Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta. A question all St. Louis Cardinals fans are asking is what happens to Wong when these players return from injury? While we can’t yet answer that, let me share with you Wong’s numbers when he received his extension (2.2 WAR in 2015):
Now then, on to Diaz. As is stated above, Aledmys is one of the shining spots on this year’s lackluster-and-confusing St. Louis Cardinals. A pleasant surprise that has allowed for Peralta to be moved to third base where he was performing outstandingly before his injury.
Let’s look at Diaz’s numbers this season, a season in which he served as the All-Star replacement for Carpenter:
I certainly see similarities between these two but we must all see that Aledmys is far outperforming Wong’s numbers from 2015. Having said that, we must admit that Wong wasn’t extended simply from his 2015 numbers but this doesn’t excuse the fact that Aledmys is performing at a level that should get him something, right?
Diaz is signed through 2017 and, if his performance were to continue to the same caliber next season, he would earn a huge payday in the free agent market. Thinking along these lines, it makes great sense then for the St. Louis Cardinals to lock him up now.
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After a great deal of discussion with my cousin, a person I quote often in my writing, we agree that the St. Louis Cardinals should entertain an offer of five years (Diaz is a mere 25 years old) at $10-11MM AAV. Diaz will earn far more than this on the market and the shortstop of the future would be a guaranteed Cardinal for the foreseeable future.
If this happens, Wong and Diaz will be locked for the next five years. Is it wise to keep them both? Perhaps Wong will find his way again soon and his extension will make sense. If he doesn’t then perhaps a different team would have interest in a team-controlled player while still protecting Diaz as the “real” future of the Redbirds.
Next: Has Jamaal Charles Lost a Step?
What do you think? Does Diaz deserve an extension? Should this happen before a trade is found or before the end of the season or not at all? Follow me on Twitter and let me know your thoughts!