Aledmys Diaz
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Astros acquire Aledmys Díaz from Blue Jays

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The Astros have acquired shortstop Aledmys Díaz from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor league right-hander Trent Thornton, the teams announced Saturday.

Díaz, 28, was originally acquired by the Blue Jays last winter in a swap for minor leaguer J.B. Woodman. He spent the entirety of his 2018 campaign in Toronto, where he slashed .263/.303/.453 with a .756 OPS and career-best 18 home runs through 452 plate appearances. While Díaz spent the bulk of his year filling in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki at short, he has experience at second and third base and may prove useful to the Astros as an extra outfield option, too.

Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Díaz will serve as protection if the Astros lose shortstop/utility player Marwin González to free agency this winter. González did not receive a qualifying offer from the club this month and has reportedly drawn interest from 29 of 30 clubs in the league.

Thornton, 25, was selected by the Astros during the fifth round of the 2015 draft. The right-hander was promoted to Triple-A Fresno in 2017 and has been up-and-down since then, though 2018 saw some modest improvements across the board as he turned in a 9-8 record through 22 starts with a 4.42 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 through 124 1/3 innings. He was one of several minor league players the Astros would have needed to protect in advance of the Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday.

Two of 10 players accept $17.8 million qualifying offers

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First baseman José Abreu and starter Jake Odorizzi have accepted their $17.8 million qualifying offers from the White Sox and Twins, respectively, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. Reliever Will Smith signed a three-year contract with the Braves ahead of Thursday’s 5 PM ET deadline to accept or reject the qualifying offer.

The remaining seven players — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Josh Donaldson, and Marcell Ozuna — have rejected their qualifying offers, per Passan. They are officially free agents and will have draft pick compensation attached to them, a potential deterrent for some interested teams.

The QO is unlikely to materially affect the fates of Cole, Rendon, and Strasburg, but it could limit the markets for the other four players. Reliever Craig Kimbrel and starter Dallas Keuchel both had draft pick compensation attached to them after the 2018 season and didn’t end up signing until June. It seems unlikely that Wheeler, Bumgarner, Donaldson, and Ozuna would have to wait until June next year to sign but it may take a while for their markets to develop.