Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal

matt-diaz

The Yankees have signed outfielder Matt Diaz to a one-year, minor league contract that will be worth $1.2 million if he makes the team and another potential $800K in incentives, according to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News and Marc Carig of Newsday.

Diaz, 35 in March, is a career .291/.339/.431 hitter and those numbers jump to .324/.364/.498 against lefties which makes him an ideal candidate to platoon with their all left handed hitting outfield.

Diaz struggled big time last season, but he was limited to just 51 games because of a thumb injury that eventually required surgery. He also had surgery on the same thumb in 2010. Diaz was a 114 OPS+ hitter before the surgeries and a 83 OPS+ hitter since. If he’s actually healthy next season the Yankees could be getting themselves a big steal here. That certainly isn’t a lock though hence the non-guaranteed deal.

Diaz is a natural left fielder, but can play right field as well. His career UZR is negative-3.4, but he’s a plus-1.6 overall in left field. That’s a good thing for the Yankees considering he’ll probably be platooning for Curtis Granderson, who is expected to be moved to left field next year, so he’ll be playing his strongest position most of the time. Ichiro Suzuki will no doubt take some time off too particularly if he struggles against lefties the way he did for the last year and a half for Seattle.

The Yankees have been looking for a right handed hitting outfielder for a couple of weeks now and they might have found him. However, since this is a minor league deal, thus non-guaranteed, the Yankees could still consider other options and if they find something have a competition in Spring Training.

The next big thing though is finding a DH. Alex Rodriguez will no doubt get a ton of DH at bats once he returns in June or July. That does create a problem because the Yankees are probably not going to be willing to spend a lot or some veteran DH’s could get scarred away if they think they’ll lose playing time in the second half. So Yankees GM Brian Cashman is probably going to consider every available option before actually settling on one.

There are a few options available for DH. None are really optimal, but two intriguing possibilities are Jim Thome and Lance Berkman. Neither played a lot last season, but both did well. Thome hit .252/.344/.442 in 58 games while Fat Elvis hit .259/.381/.444 in 32 games. Ideally, the Yankees could get both on minor league deals and have them battle it out in Spring Training, but that seems like a long shot. Thome is 42 and Berkman is 37 and both are coming off injury riddled seasons so perhaps it’s possible.

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10 Responses to Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal

  1. Tanned Tom says:

    I like the Diaz signing, and I also really like the Thome/Berkman idea. But how about just platooning them at DH and sitting A-roid when he's not at 3B? On balance he's probably still a better hitter, but when you factor in splits a Thome/Berkman combo would have to be more dangerous. And both can back up Teixeira at 1B. Plus when his Roidness does return you can probably trade one from Youkilis, Berkman, Thome for something, maybe a catcher if needed.
    But I still say trade Granderson.

  2. Keena says:

    35 is a little young for this team, but at least he's approaching the right age requirement. I guess they want a few kids around to lighten the mood a little.

  3. John says:

    Diaz is bad at baseball. Just a bum

    • John says:

      I mean this CANT be the guy they get. There is talk of Vernon wells. Why not just get Soriano back if the Cubs eat the salary? Just a horrible offseason. Good thing they need a catcher and right handed bat cause Montero is ready. Oh wait they traded him for a guy whose arm fell off. Bad

      • Tanned Tom says:

        As a part time player, on the cheap, without a roster spot committment, this signing makes sense.
        As for Montero, he had a terrible year with Seattle : .260/.298/.386. This is a very bad stat line. Plus he can't catch. The Mariners have already figured that out. You think he would improve this team? How? Can't hit, field or run. 5 years from now Montero will be hanging on somewhere as a part time DH/crappy fielding 1B and either Pineda or Campos or both will be in the rotation. Oh and Noesi, the other player the Mariners got? He'll be a scrub reliever or in AAA ball. This trade doesn't look too bad now, but in 5 years will look like a steal.
        If you want to bemoan a trade, it's the Granderson deal that stinks, and will stink for years to come.

        • mscott says:

          IPK had a great year and then turned into the average pitcher he is destined to be.

          Ajax had one dead-on average year, followed by a decidedly BELOW average one, followed by an excellent one, all with an average BaBip of .370! Will he sustain a .370 BaBip for a career?

          Phil Coke is a generic, fungible pitcher. Wear a hair shirt for his loss if it makes you happy.

          CGrand does indeed have his wobbly defense and big strikeout warts but has, over his three years as a Yankee, averaged 36 HR, 97 RBI, 16 SB, .506 Slugging, .843 OPS and 123 OPS+. He was fourth in the MVY voting in 2011.

          Might it end up stinking? Perhaps. Has CGrand been bad? Quite the opposite. Jury's still out.

      • Mike Sommer says:

        Vernon Wells? You haven't been paying attention lately, have you?

  4. Mike says:

    Hey for that kind of cash he's worth a shot. Good numbers especially against lefties, but not a great deal of power. I'm very fond of the Thome/Berkman possibilities, one or both.

  5. @jcubed5 says:

    Thome? Berkman? These guys are ancient. Bring up anyone from the farm and give them a try.