It seems to be a reoccurring theme in the offseason. The Cubs have been rumored to be courting Cuban defector SS Aledmys Diaz.
You may remember all the buzz that was created last winter when both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler were also on the market as Cuban defectors and this situation isn’t all that different. We all know how these two players ended up getting deals, and Soler continues to be a top prospect within the Cubs’ system.
While I’ve never seen Diaz on video or personally, scouting reports show his defense is solid and has a strong right handed bat, which would always be welcomed on a left infielding spot.
Diaz was scheduled to be taking part in an open workout in Mexico where teams could scout the young 23 year old, but the workout was postponed for undisclosed reasons according to Jesse Sanchez (who is a leading authority on latin-american ball prospects. Give him a follow on twitter)
You may be wondering, why would the Cubs want even more infield prospects when both Albert Almora and Javier Baez have a strong hold on top prospect status, let alone having Starlin Castro fill the role of short stop for the big league club? Are these three young men not qualified to lead the Cubs to a world series?
The answer goes pretty deep, so stay with me on this one.
These three young men are more than qualified to take the reigns and help the Cubs to a World Series victory. The appeal of courting Diaz is because of his age, his skill, his price and his value. Most international prospects tend to be signed for less than their overall relative value as there is always a certain risk associated with signing them. Once Diaz theoretically starts to flourish in the minor league systems, his value will become on par with regular market rates in the MLB.
Obviously he could be used as trade bait in the future once his value comes to par which would allow the Cubs to procure more quality players in their rebuild phase, but it continues to get more complicated than that.
Diaz could have potential value to the Cubs as a 3B as well. Naturally, most shortstops can make the adjustments to playing 3B very quickly and being a potential platoon style player with Ian Stewart sounds very enticing. It’s all speculation at this point, but it still begs the question: could this be a viable solution to the Cubs’ current 3B problems?
What makes Diaz even more appealing to the Cubs is the fact that his signing will not count against the international spending pool of $2.9 million. This is because of his age (23 years) and the fact he’s played professional baseball elsewhere beforehand. These players are not considered international amateurs and do not apply to the cap, so any team can spend as much as they’d like on his services. This is extremely similar to the situation Jorge Soler was in last year.
This appeal is well known, and 10 teams are rumored to be involved in courting Diaz. The Cubs do see value in signing him, but only at the right price. A bidding war is almost imminent but this is a very Theo and Jed style player, so I would expect them to tender a pretty significant bet.
So why not just offer Diaz a massive deal and sign him? The Cubs have deep pockets, but the idea of trying to find 40 man roster spot for him is a lofty one. There isn’t a ton of room for another IF prospect on that list and the Cubs would almost certainly have to take a loss of some kind in order to implement him to the list. It’s a touchy situation.
Needless to say, the Cubs will be taking a good hard look at young Diaz.