Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz has drawn interest from multiple MLB teams this winter, but his situation just got a bit more complicated. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, MLB is currently investigating his age.
At issue is that Diaz is presenting himself as a 23-year-old born on January 8, 1990. However, one report suggests that he was born on August 1, 1990, which would make him 22. There is also a roster for the 2010 Pan-American games which says he was born in 1991.
Whether Diaz is 23 or younger is pretty significant if you consider that MLB teams are now limited by an international spending cap. It’s $2.9 million for each team during the 2011-2012 international spending period. However, Cuban players with at least three years of professional experience and who are at least 23 are exempt from those bonus pools. In other words, Diaz could stand to make a lot more money if he’s 23 as opposed to 22 or 21.
MLB has yet to rule on whether Diaz is exempt from the bonus pools and they also want him to present an unblocking license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before he can sign with a team. In the meantime, Diaz has established residency in Mexico.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.