Aledmys Diaz enjoyed a breakout 2016 campaign with the Cardinals (133 wRC+ in 460 plate appearances) and was seemingly entrenched as the club's everyday shortstop heading in the 2017 season. Unfortunately, Diaz struggled to find his footing in the early going and was ultimately demoted to Triple-A Memphis in late June after slashing just .260/.293/.396 over the season's first three months. The shortstop's walk rate was cut in half -- from 8.9 percent in 2016 to 4.3 percent -- and he watched his power numbers plummet as well. Diaz's hard-hit rate fell eight percentage points in his second big-league season and his ISO dropped from .210 to .133. He continued to struggle at Triple-A (77 wRC+ in 187 plate appearances) while Paul DeJong took full advantage of his opportunity as the team's starting shortstop. The Cards shipped Diaz out to Toronto in the offseason, which is a big positive for Diaz given the injury histories of the two middle-infielders in front of him (Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis).
The Cardinals traded Diaz to the Blue Jays on Friday in exchange for minor-league outfielder J.B. Woodman, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. Paul DeJong's emergence at shortstop for St. Louis made Diaz expendable, but he's landed in a good spot -- on a Blue Jays team desperately in need of a boost in the middle infield. Diaz may never get back to 2016 levels, but his contact ability and power should play up better in Rogers Centre.
Diaz left Sunday's game with a strained left hamstring, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. After emerging as one of the big surprises of the 2016 campaign, Diaz's demotion to Triple-A Memphis and prolonged stay in the minor leagues this season raise questions about the Cards' long-term plans for him. Paul DeJong usurped Diaz on the organizational depth chart, and it's reasonable to think that a utility role may be in Diaz's future if he remains in St. Louis.
Diaz exited Sunday's game against the Brewers early with an apparent injury, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Diaz appeared to tweak his hamstring while attempting to beat out a groundball in the bottom of the second inning. He was replaced by Greg Garcia between innings, which will put a close on Diaz's 2017 campaign. We'll have to wait and see what the specifics of his injury are.
Diaz was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Diaz had been toiling with the Redbirds since June 28, when he was sent down to work on refining his swing. He wrapped up his Triple-A tenure with a .253/.305/.388 line over 46 games, with both his batting average and OPS actually checking in lower than his production in those categories during his 71 games with the big-league club prior to his demotion. He's likely to see sporadic playing time for the balance of the regular season, as standout rookie Paul DeJong is firmly entrenched in Diaz's old everyday shortstop role.
Diaz recently asked for and was granted permission to begin working at second and third base in addition to shortstop at Triple-A Memphis, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. "I think versatility for most players is valuable," said Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. "Now that he's been down there awhile and adjusting to it, [we] thought it was time to create some flexibility for him." Diaz's request was essentially born out of self-preservation, considering that rookie Paul DeJong has a stranglehold on the shortstop position in the majors for the foreseeable future. Diaz worked at multiple spots in the infield during his playing days in Cuba, but had focused on shortstop during his time in the Cardinals' organization. Sent down to Memphis back on June 28 to refine his swing, the 27-year-old has been rather ordinary with the Redbirds, slashing .252/.292/.396 with four home runs and 20 RBI.
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