In the Giancarlo Stanton negotiations, the same trade candidates keep being brought up as returns to Miami from the St. Louis Cardinals. One seemingly forgotten name is Aledmys Diaz and prove to be just what St. Louis needs to complete a deal for their desired ‘impact bat.’
The St. Louis Cardinals are in a precarious position.
On the verge of becoming a real contender in possibly a pretty wide open NL Central race in 2018, St. Louis is honestly just a few pieces away from getting the inside track on another division title. However, the team is also on the verge of falling from a cliff if they get the wrong pieces / trade away too much acquiring those wrong pieces.
To me, the most important aspect of the Cardinals’ Giancarlo Stanton chase is who they’re willing to give up. With a loaded farm system, coming off of an explosive minor league year and only getting better going forward, the Cardinals could probably just wait around for their kids to arrive at the big league level and be ready to reasonably make a playoff push in 2020.
However, that’s not what any of us want. We want our favorite team to use that stacked minor league system to acquire top flight big league talent to help them win next year and bridge the gap between now and when all those prospects are ready to make noise.
But, to properly build the bridge over that gap, the right players must be traded away to acquire Stanton or any other impact bat or pitcher.
So far, in the trades I proposed this offseason, some names I’ve thrown around are Luke Weaver, Dakota Hudson, Carson Kelly, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Michael Wacha, Harrison Bader, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes and Jedd Gyorko.
It’s a pretty wide assortment of players, some much more valuable than others, but there are some pretty serious potential divots being dug in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization right there. But there’s one player who I haven’t mentioned at all in my trade proposals this offseason.
The forgotten Aledmys Diaz is a bit sad when considering how important and fabulous his 2016 season was, but forgivable when you remember just how bad his 2017 season was in comparison.
After slogging his way to -0.7 bWAR and 78 WRC+ in 301 plate appearances over the first three months of the season, the second year Cuban shortstop was almost mercifully demoted to triple-A in an attempt to help him figure things out.
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The demotion, for all that I can tell, didn’t help much at all in terms of getting Diaz back to his 2016 shape.
I honestly hate to pile criticism and negativity on a player that may have just suffered through a potentially devastating season, but 77 WRC+ a K rate that ballooned from 13% at the MLB level to 16% at triple-A isn’t a promising sign, and it doesn’t exactly scream to me Diaz is back in top form.
Now, I have long asseverated that ‘selling low’ on a player is a terrible thing for a team to do. Potentially trading Aledmys Diaz after just one bad season, when his value is currently at the lowest it has ever been, is ‘selling low’ at possibly its most devastating.
However, although it may not feel like it right now, Diaz still maintains a surprising amount of value, making him possibly a key to a Giancarlo Stanton trade.
That surprising value is derived from belief that Diaz can regain his 2016 form. After all, this is a 27 year old shortstop just one year removed from posting a 3.5 bWAR season on the back of 17 home runs, 71 RBI’s, a .300/.369/.510 slash line and 133 WRC+.
After being signed on a 4-year, $8 million contract as a Cuban defector during the 2013-14 off-season, Diaz spent two years in the minor leagues and then came out of nowhere in 2016 to take the look of a franchise shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals.
In fact, after the season Diaz put together, I was adamant that St. Louis lock him down on a multi-year extension and give him the keys to the ‘franchise shortstop’ car for the next 3-4 years.
In addition to only being one year removed from an All-Star season, Diaz still has six more years of team control, as the seasons accrued while under contract did not count towards his pre-arbitration and arbitration years. So, for the next three years, the Cuban will be making league minimum before entering his three years of arbitration.
In theory, or at least optimistically, Diaz is an All-Star caliber shortstop with six seasons of cheap control going forward. The reason he could be a key to a Giancarlo Stanton trade is because he’s exactly the kind of player the Marlins are looking for right now.
Miami finished 28th in all of baseball with only 0.8 total WAR from the shortstop position in 2017, so Diaz would fill a clear and present need. And, considering that he’s only 27-years-old and would be around for the next six years, it’s completely reasonable to expect him to be a building block throughout the rebuild the Marlins are about to undergo.
So, from a Miami perspective, although Diaz wouldn’t be the centerpiece of a potential Giancarlo Stanton trade, he’s a sure upgrade over the 86 WRC+ Miguel Rojas put up in 2017 and secures the shortstop position going forward.
For the St. Louis Cardinals, this would be the perfect trade piece to see go back to Miami. Although Paul DeJong’s one year emergence eerily mirrors Diaz’s, DeJong’s much stronger peripherals suggest he’ll be able to sustain his rookie season performance going forward. DeJong has made Diaz all but irrelevant to the 2018 St. Louis Cardinals.
Combine that with the fact that he still holds tremendous value and could be the ideal piece in a Giancarlo Stanton and the Cardinals seem to be in a perfect position with Aledmys Diaz. All we can hope now is that the cards are played correctly.