The Astros patiently waited until I was back in the country to announce their second acquisition this winter. The front office swung a deal to send righthander prospect Trent Thornton to Toronto for 28-year-old Aledmys Diaz, a utility infielder who converted to the outfield last season. Sound familiar?
Diaz: Moving to Texas
(c) Associated Press
Sounds like our beloved Marwin Gonzalez who is now testing free agency and is expected to earn somewhere in the $12-15 million per year range in salary. Diaz is a righthanded hitter while Marwin is a switch-hitter but the numbers are similar.
Marwin's average over the past three seasons, including his monster 2017 campaign, are .268/.331/.445/.776 while averaging 17 homers, 70 RBIs, 41 walks and 114 strikeouts per season.
The Cuban-born Diaz, who won't be eligible for arbitration until 2020, has averaged .275/.325/.458/.753 while averaging 14 homers, 47 RBIs, 26 walks and 55 strikeouts in his three big-league seasons.
Diaz was an All-Star in 2016 as a rookie with the Cardinals but played much less in 2017 and was moved to Toronto where he bounced back with an 18-HR season. If you trust Defensive WAR, he may be something of a liability with the glove.
Diaz is not quite Marwin but he provides much of the same talent at a fraction of the cost. Clearly with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman manning the infield, management will have to find ways to get Diaz into the lineup, the same way they did with Gonzalez. One note of caution: Diaz' numbers against lefthanded pitching are just adequate at best.
The acquisition puts the number of players on the 40-man roster at 35, which includes pitcher Lance McCullers. The big righthander underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow recently and will be lost for the 2019 campaign. Surely, he'll me moved to the disabled list at some point.
Thornton was one of the minor leaguers who would have needed to be exposed to the Rule 5 draft next month unless he was added to the 40-man by Tuesday, according to Astros.com. Top prospects who are eligible to be exposed if not promoted are pitchers Rogelio Armenteros and Riley Ferrell along with catcher Garrett Stubbs who is currently third on the team's depth chart behind Max Stassi and newly-claimed Chris Herrmann.
The Astros were shut out of the postseason hardware with Justin Verlander finishing second behind Tampa Bay's Blake Snell for the AL Cy Young Award. In honesty, though Verlander had a great year, Snell put together a more impressive season. After being irate about Mike Hampton getting stiffed in 1999 to Randy Johnson who had five fewer wins, it would be hypocritical of me to support Verlander this year. Yes, he had some no-decisions where he was the victim of poor support but Snell was simply able to do more with a lesser team.
Trade talks continue as the Astros look to fill up to three spots in the starting rotation and beef up at catcher and designated hitter.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and check the AstroWire regularly for updates.
- Bob Hulsey