The Houston Astros have swung a deal to acquire infielder Aledmys Diaz from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Trent Thornton. The 28-year-old was an All-Star at shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016.
Diaz has long been a favorite of mine, as he brings with him very solid power for a middle infielder, and has shown the ability to limit strikeouts. Last season, he slashed .263/.303/.453 despite an exceptionally low .269 BABip, meaning that not only should he be able to sustain that level of production, but he could very well exceed it. While he doesn’t walk a ton (5.1% last season), it’s certainly excusable seeing as how he only strikes out 13.7% of the time. Over 130 games played, he hit 18 home runs and 26 doubles for the Jays, seeing time at both short and third.
Diaz seems likely to fill the role of free agent utility player Marwin Gonzalez. While he has seen a significant amount of time at third and short, he has some experience at second and in left field. He grades as a slightly below average fielder posting a 2.44 RF/9 at third (average is 2.64) and a 3.88 RF/9 at short (average is 3.9).
Early in the year, I would expect Diaz to see a limited amount of playing time, as he’s a right-handed hitter in a very righty heavy line-up, limiting platoon opportunities, but should see more time as the season presses on and injuries begin to happen. He will remain under the Astros’ control through 2022, and will be eligible for arbitration for the first time next winter.In response to likely losing Marwin Gonzalez in free agency, the @Astros acquired utility-player Aledmys Diaz from the @BlueJays in a trade on Saturday. @OrsattiJoe has more.Click To Tweet
The Blue Jays acquired Trent Thornton, a 25-year old right-handed starting pitcher, from the Astros in this deal. After being selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, he rose rather quickly through the ranks despite rather lackluster numbers throughout. Thornton is a control specialist and lacks “stuff”, bringing with him a low 90’s fastball and a 12-to-6 curve. At the end of the day, he strikes me as a long-reliever, and should see time as a taxi-squad swing in 2019. I would consider him to be below Sam Gaviglio and Julian Merryweather on the depth chart for multi-inning call-up options.
I give the Astros an edge on this deal, as I would consider Diaz to be good enough to start on a number of other teams. To have him as an option off of the bench is a sign of exceptional depth. Furthermore, I don’t love Thornton, as I don’t believe that his ceiling is very high at all. At the most, he could be a middling five, but I believe he’s a replacement level taxi-swing barring any legitimate adjustments.