The Blue Jays acquired former All-Star, Aledmys Diaz, in an under radar move this week. But what, if any, fantasy value does he have heading into 2018?
Not every team can make a Giancarlo Stanton type of move every day. There are a lot of moves that can fly under the radar this time of the season, and the Blue Jays acquiring Aledmys Diaz fits that bill. He was an All-Star in 2016 but took a nosedive last season.
Does he carry any fantasy value in 2018?
Diaz was a breakout star in 2016 for the Cardinals. He posted a .300/17 HR/65 RBI/.879 OPS line over 111 games and was named an All-Star. No one is going to confuse him with Ozzie Smith defensively, but it did not detract from what was a great rookie campaign.
Diaz is a Cuban import, so he will enter next season at the age of 27 and lacks the time that many owners think that he still may develop.
It is important to note that Diaz did find success on less than stellar batted ball data, 15% LD, 46% GB, 39% FB rates, so there were some red flags. Yet, no one would have guessed that he would hit the sophomore slump that he did.
Between injuries, and a mid-season demotion in which he did not light it up in the minors either, he finished the season with a .259/7 HR/20 RBI/4 SB/.682 OPS line.
There was a lot that went wrong. An already free swinger as it was, his contact rate dropped 4%, his Chase rate skyrocketed 10%, and he posted an abysmal AVG versus breaking pitches as well. It was a perfect storm for Diaz. His fielding did not improve, the bat was not there to make up the difference, and the Cards found a surprise replacement in Paul Dejong.
Diaz was clearly replaceable. For the Blue Jays, it was a worthy gamble. While his batted ball data were not the best, he was able to nearly replicate those rates in 2017, 17% LD, 46% GB, 38 % FB, 53% Med and 23% Hard.
In his breakout year, he posted 48 XBH. Last season, in 100 fewer at-bats, he had 24 XBH. He was right on pace to match those counting stats, but the plate disciple was so bad the Cardinals had to turn elsewhere.
In a perfect world, Diaz would be going to a much hitter friendly ballpark and a solid middle of the order around him to support his stats. Yet, his path to playing time is interesting. It looks as though right now, barring a trade of either Troy Tulowitzki, Devon Travis, or even Josh Donaldson, Diaz does not have a clear infield path.
Now Tulo, nor Travis, are exactly durable. That opens the door for Diaz to easily get a lot of at-bats. Kevin Pillar and Teoscar Hernandez should be locked in as starters in the outfield, but one intriguing possibility at playing time could come in left field over Steve Pearce.
Diaz played four games in left field last season, so it would not be a completely foreign idea. For fantasy owners though, it comes down to plate discipline. Diaz, even if he is handed a starting job, is probably not worth drafting on draft day. But he does shape up to be a player to keep close tabs on.
The talent is there where he could continue to offer power numbers, he is not a great to bet on another .300 AVG at this point. With a healthy Donaldson, Kendrys Morales, and Justin Smoak, there are counting stat opportunities there to be had.