Friday, February 14, 2014

Why the Padres Need to Sign: Aledmys Diaz

The San Diego Padres allowed Cuban defectors Odrisamer Despaigne and Aledmys Diaz to hold showcases for several major league teams and their scouts in the Dominican Republic at San Diego's international complex. Both players were recently cleared to sign with a major league team and would not be subjected to the Collective Bargaining Agreement's policies on amateur international free agents, since both players are 23 or older and have played three or more years in a recognized foreign league.

Both of these players are expected to require significant monetary commitments, possibly upwards of thirty million dollars over four to six seasons. Outfielder Yasiel Puig (42 million) and infielder Alexander Guerrero (28 million) are excellent comparisons for a contract. Aledmys Diaz makes quite a bit of sense for the San Diego Padres.

According to beat writer Jeff Saunders at the Union Tribune, the Padres are interested in Diaz and are significantly more active on the international front than it appears from the outside. The organization has certainly put a large emphasis on the international market in recent years, so this could be the type of splash that brings the Padres to international relevance.

Aledmys Diaz had his professional debut delayed one season after lying about his age (claiming to be a year older!) in order to sign a contract that wasn't subjected to the CBA's policies. He is currently just 23 years old, and boasts an excellent track record in the Serie Nacional de BĂ©isbol (Cuban National Series), hitting .313 with 12 home runs in his age 21 season. Diaz is younger, significantly less expensive, and has a higher ceiling than current third baseman Chase Headley.

Some scouts have mentioned that they expect Diaz will need to be moved over to second base (Jedd Gyorko would move to third base in this scenario), so he could use some time in the minors to learn the position. If the Padres were to sign Diaz, they could keep him in El Paso for until early July, and if Chase Headley gets off to a good start, the team could trade him and have an immediate replacement without taking away from the team's overall talent. 

The money works out in this situation as well, because a half-season of Headley (5.25 million) and a full season of Diaz (est. 4 million) would allow the Padres to save money. If the Padres traded Headley in this scenario, it wouldn't necessarily have to be for prospects. A Justin Upton for Chase Headley trade was rumored to be on the table a year ago, and a similar deal could be made involving another established major league talent, especially if Headley gets off to a good start. Possible candidates for acquisition in a Headley trade could be outfielders Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Starling Marte

This signing could create excellent leverage in negotiations with Headley as well as provide a back-up plan if San Diego does not want to trade him at the deadline. Diaz would put an impressive cherry on top of an offseason that has already brought in Josh Johnson, Alex Torres, Joaquin Benoit, Seth Smith, Tony Sipp, Xavier Nady, and many others to San Diego.

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