Matt Diaz, who played for the Braves from 2006 to 2010 before being non-tendered this offseason, is back in Atlanta for the stretch run.
Diaz signed a two-year, $4.25 million deal with Pittsburgh as a free agent, but he hit just .253 with zero homers and a .627 OPS in 100 games and the Pirates were happy to unload his $2 million contract for 2012 (along with some cash to cover part of the salary) in exchange for a player to be named later.
Diaz was also ineffective last year, but in the four previous seasons he batted .316 with an .829 OPS in 427 games and at minimum he’s a solid platoon option versus left-handed pitching.
And he brings some added value as a crazy fan wrangler.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.