TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have found the versatile infielder they were looking for after acquiring Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals in exchange for Minor League outfielder J.B. Woodman.Diaz was an All-Star in 2016, but he regressed with the bat this past season and was sent back to the Minor
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have found the versatile infielder they were looking for after acquiring Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals in exchange for Minor League outfielder J.B. Woodman.
Diaz was an All-Star in 2016, but he regressed with the bat this past season and was sent back to the Minor Leagues midway through the year. He's a shortstop by trade, but also made appearances for the Cardinals at second base and in left field.
This is exactly the type of player Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said was his top priority at the recent General Managers Meetings. Toronto was seeking increased depth up the middle after losing starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and second baseman Devon Travis to significant injuries during each of the past two years.
"Our priority is complementing our infield in some way with versatility," Atkins said at the time. "Someone not that can just play when needed, but someone who could potentially get 600 plate appearances across our infield in some form or fashion."
Diaz was signed out of Cuba as an international free agent to a four-year contract worth $8 million. The 27-year-old broke camp with St. Louis in 2016, and he hit .300 with 17 home runs, 65 RBIs and an .879 OPS in 111 games. More of the same was expected this year, but Diaz hit .259/.290/.392 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 79 games.
Toronto now appears to have settled its middle-infield situation for the 2018 season. Diaz likely will see time at shortstop and second base while possibly even making an occasional start in the outfield. He will have the inside track at the super utility job next year, while recently acquired Mpho' Ngoepe provides additional depth as a defensive specialist.
Tulowitzki has appeared in more than 130 games just once since 2011. Travis has undergone multiple knee surgeries and has been limited to 213 games over the last three years. That's why acquiring a so-called bench player who could receive upwards of 500 at-bats became a priority this offseason. Diaz essentially takes the spot of the light-hitting Ryan Goins, who was non-tendered by the ballclub on Friday night.
Diaz's fall from grace in the Cardinals' organization coincided with the rise of Paul DeJong, who took over as the starting shortstop in St. Louis. It was DeJong's presence that prompted Diaz to ask St. Louis for opportunities to play other infield spots during his final month at Triple-A Memphis. That bodes well for his time in Toronto, because the Blue Jays currently don't have a starting job to offer him.
"I want to be an everyday player in the big leagues," said Diaz, who is under club control through 2022. "That's why I wanted to get work at second base and third base. It gives me more options, and hopefully an organization will give me a chance to play every day. That's what I want to do."
The Blue Jays parted ways with the promising prospect Woodman to get the deal done. Woodman was ranked Toronto's No. 28 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, and he's a former second-round pick in the 2016 Draft. Woodman hit .240 with a .699 OPS in 96 games for Class A Lansing during his age-22 season.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.