March 11: Q of the Day
Why did they sign Aledmys Diaz after spending $53 million on Jhonny Peralta. Do they think he will not pan out? Does this make Pete Kozma trade bait?
— Steve M., De Soto, Ill.
I’ll respond with my own question: Why not?
There seems to be a lot of focus on the fact that Diaz and Peralta play the same position and have contracts of equal length. Instead of looking at it as a logjam, view the acquisition simply as the Cardinals’ way of improving the organization’s depth. Diaz now becomes a prospect in the organization — much like Oscar Taveras or Stephen Piscotty or Patrick Wisdom, all of whom currently have established Major Leaguers who are playing their positions and are signed for the long term. That doesn’t stop an organization from continuing to develop talented replacements. What it does is give the Cardinals options down the road — players can be traded to address other needs, openings may be created because of injury, versatility can help shuffle players around.
Diaz is not ready to start the season in the Majors, so there is no shortstop controversy at the moment. When the Cardinals do believe he’s ready, then they will have some decisions to make. The benefit they’ll have, though, is that both Peralta and Diaz have defensive flexibility. Diaz can also play second; Peralta can move to third. Matt Carpenter can move all sorts of places. So pieces that may be in place now can be shuffled later.
As for Pete Kozma, it does seem like it will be hard for him to find a starting opportunity in this organization again. Peralta owns the position now, while Diaz looks like he could be the shortstop of the future. Kozma had his chance in 2013, and his inability to seize it is why the Cardinals have made it a priority to stockpile shortstops. The Cardinals do have enough middle infield depth to consider making a trade (Kozma or Daniel Descalso) if they feel compelled to before the season starts.
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