It is still very early in the St. Louis Cardinals’ spring training, and the surprise so far is the private workout that they held for Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz on Wednseday. The 23 year old Diaz reportedly wants to sign a major league contract in the coming days and his agent feels he is ready to start in the big leagues opening day 2014, a little more than five weeks from now. There are many suitors for Diaz, and the Cardinals might be the most surprising of them.
The Cardinals have not made a habit of chasing after the international phenoms with a high price tag, and their roster appeared to be already set coming into spring training. Shortstop is Diaz’s natural position, and a position that has troubled the Cardinals in recent years. But the Cards signed veteran Jhonny Peralta to a 4-year, $53 million deal this offseason to fill that spot. With experienced infielders Mark Ellis, Daniel Descalso, and Pete Kozma already on the roster, the signing of Diaz might only complicate things.
Diaz has drawn comparisons to New York Yankee legend Derek Jeter, and the Yankees are among the many teams reportedly seeking to add Diaz along with other big spenders such as the Phillies, Braves and Mariners. The Cardinals seem very seriously interested according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and a private workout at this point on the calendar would certainly suggest so.
It would likely take a deal well north of $20 million to acquire Diaz, and the Cardinals may make an offer soon that would only be thwarted by a bigger number from one of the other clubs in pursuit. The Cardinals have money to burn, but they did not get into their enviable situation by throwing tens of millions of dollars at two different players who occupy the same position.
Nevertheless, shortstop is a position that has stymied the Cards in recent years, and Peralta is already 31 years old with questions about his sustainability lingering. If the Cardinals’ management really likes what they see in Diaz it might be worth it to sign him and lockdown another position for the future.