Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Cardinals are shopping shortstop Pete Kozma, who is currently on the outside looking in for an Opening Day roster spot with the defending National League champions. Rubin says the Mets probably aren’t interested because Kozma is “not really” an upgrade over projected starting shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Kozma plays decent defense at short, but he was a .236/.308/.344 career hitter in the minor leagues and is a .232/.293/.315 career hitter in the major leagues. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft but hasn’t been able to develop offensively and his past numbers suggest that there is no improvement on the way.
The Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million free agent contract in November and they inked 23-year-old Cuban middle infielder Aledmys Diaz to a four-year, $8 million deal in early March. Daniel Descalso can serve as an emergency backup in the early going for Peralta while Diaz, a Cuban defector who did not play in 2013, gets acclimated to U.S. pro baseball in the minors.
Rubin says the Mets might be going after Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Initial reports of Aledmys Diaz’s deal with the Cardinals suggested he’d be getting at least $20 million over four seasons, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch now writes that the Cuban shortstop is getting significantly less upfront money.
According to Goold it’s a four-year, $8 million deal, which is essentially utility infielder money for the 23-year-old who hit .315 with 12 homers and 11 steals in 313 plate appearances during his final Cuban season.
There are questions about Diaz’s ability to play shortstop in the majors, but even as a part-timer used mostly at second base or third base he could provide a strong return on that minimal investment pretty easily. For now, though, Diaz is likely slated to spend some time in the minors.
As first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Cardinals have agreed to a major league contract with Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that it’s a four-year deal.
Diaz will arrive at Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Florida on Monday morning. No word on the financial terms.
The Cardinals already have their Opening Day infield set with Matt Adams at first base, Matt Carpenter at third base, Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, and a platoon of Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis at second base. So Diaz is more of a luxury than a necessity and may open the 2014 season in the minor leagues to get properly acclimated to professional baseball.
Diaz, 23, batted .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases across 313 plate appearances during his final year in Cuba. He established residency in Mexico after defecting in the summer of 2012.
The Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, and Giants all expressed interest in him this winter.
UPDATE, 5:21 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says the four-year deal is worth less than $20 million.
UPDATE, Monday, 12:18 p.m. ET: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the figure: $8 million.
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz recently held a showcase for several teams. At the time the Yankees were said to be interested in him, possibly as an eventual Jeter heir. But not anymore. George King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees are dropping out of the bidding.
The Braves, Giants, Cardinals, and Phillies are thought to be interested in the 23-year-old shortstop. Or, at least, shortstop for now. His defense is said to be questionable and his future may be at second or third.
Diaz hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 313 plate appearances his final year in Cuba.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the story from Cardinals spring training in Jupiter, Florida …
Long after the clubhouse emptied, general manager John Mozeliak and his chief lieutenants, manager Mike Matheny and coaches from both sides of camp attended a workout of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who is expected to sign a major-league contract with a club within days.
The Cardinals are expected to follow up on their longstanding interest in the 23-year-old by extending a formal offer to his agent, Jaime Torres, within the next 24 hours.
The Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million free agent contract in November and are set at third base with Matt Carpenter and at second base with Kolten Wong. But the word on Diaz is that his defense needs fine tuning, so the St. Louis front office could be thinking long term with this move.
The Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres, and Giants are also known to have interest in Diaz, who hit .315/.404/.500 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 313 plate appearances his final year in Cuba.