Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Aledmys Diaz, Dariel Alvarez, and the Yankees

"Do something!"

The other day Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reported that the Miami Marlins are not interested in either Aledmys Diaz nor Dariel Alvarez. Both players defected from Cuba, and became free agents on December 13th (neither player is considered an international free agent, as they're either old enough or have served enough time in the Cuban/Mexican professional league). Diaz will turn 23 on January 8th, is a shortstop, and has garnered interest from a number of teams. Not a surprise at such a premium position.

I can see the Yankees having interest in Diaz, although they don't have a position ready for him in 2013, unless he were to move to 3B while Youkilis was the DH... and who knows what would happen when ARod returns. Derek Jeter will likely exercise his player option for 2014, and Rodriguez may start to be the team's full-time DH, which would leave a spot open on the right side of the infield. So it wouldn't surprise me to see the Yankees mentioned alongside the name "Aledmys Diaz".

But it's Alvarez that got me thinking.

And thinking gives me a headache.

A few people have compared Alvarez and Yoenis Cespedes. Not so much in terms of their abilities, but over the fact that Alvarez is an outfielder and is very close to MLB-ready. Notice I say "very close", as a year in AAA may be in Dariel's future. As for his bat, Alvarez put up a line of .354/.371/.521 in La Liga Invernal Veracruz of Mexico in 2012, after putting up a line of .363/.404/.613 line with 20 home runs in 344 at-bats in Serie Nacional de BĂ©isbol of Cuba in 2011. On top of those hitting stats, Dariel is said to be able to play all three outfield positions, and has a plus arm. So the team that signs him would definitely view him as more than a middling prospect.

The Marlins are always interested in Cuban players, due to their large Hispanic fan base in southern Florida, so them being out of the running for Alvarez is big. Hearing about teams being more interested in Aledmys is also a pretty good sign that there would be little competition for Dariel. And finally, there's the fact that we haven't heard nearly as much hype for him as we did for Cespedes. However, Alvarez is a couple of years younger than Yoenis was last year when the A's signed him for 4 years and $46 million, so I'm not thinking the Yankees could get the Cuban outfielder on the cheap. 

With Curtis Granderson likely playing his last season with the Yankees in 2013, Gardner being in his last year of team control in 2014, and Ichiro already not being a great starting option, it's easy to see that the Yankees have a spot that Alvarez could fill. And there would probably still be an opportunity for Tyler Austin should he be ready for a promotion in 1-2 years. 

"You better not forget about me!"

I'm sure you're as sick of this subject as I am, but it likely comes down to money. Alvarez is not in the Yasiel Puig or Jorge Soler category, who got 7 years out of the Dodgers and 9 years out of the Cubs, respectively. And I already mentioned that he's not the prospect Cespedes was, who got a contract worth $11.5 million a season. So I really can't see Dariel being signed for more than 5 years and $45 million. 

I think you can tell that I'd like to look hard at Mr. Dariel Alvarez.

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