For some reason, oh wait, we know why the Miami Marlins decided to get rid of Derek Dietrich. It all comes down to money. The Marlins decided to get rid of their longest-tenured player due to money. Despite making all of $2.8 million last season, the raise apparently was more than the Marlins were willing to pay. If designating him for assignment was not dumb enough, it was even dumber that no one in MLB picked him up on waivers. There has to be some reason why Derek Dierich has a quiet market in 2018.
Derek Dietrich spent the 2018 season, his age 28 season, hitting .265 / .330 / .421 (112 OPS+) in 149 games. These numbers are not superstar making, but good for a player of his style. This included a career high 16 home runs in a division with a mess of pitchers and hitters parks. This was after hitting a .249 / .334 / .424 (106 OPS+) the season previous. The offensive numbers are not the reason though that Derek Dietrich fits 30 teams well. It is his glove.
Derek Dietrich has a supreme Ben Zobrist-vibe, without the bat. In the 2018 season alone, the Marlins had Dietrich play two outfield positions and three infield ones. The only positions he did not play were center field and shortstop, along with catcher and pitcher. This season marked the largest improvement in his versatility. This is the first season he played right field, in the large Marlins Park right field. However, the majority of Dietrich’s 2018 came in left field and first base. He played second base four times, DHed three times, played third twice and right field once.
There is one major league teams that could use such defense versatility, a young bat in his prime, and a cheap player. The New York Yankees come immediately to mind. The Neil Walker experiment worked, to some degree. Only hitting a paltry .219 / .309 / .354, Walker hit 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. This represented a 79 OPS+. The only reason this season, which was -.1 WAR, is that he came up in the clutch. He is not returning. These were career worst numbers. On top of that, the Yankees tried playing Neil Walker in right field. Neil Walker has no business in the outfield.
With Derek Dietrich, the Yankees could shift Gleyber Torres to short, put Dietrich at second and have suitable replacement for the injured Didi Gregorius. On the days in which someone in the outfield does not play, they can put Dietrich in left field, arguably the hardest position to play at Yankee Stadium. If Luke Voit or Greg Bird end up on the disabled list, they fit Dietrich in perfectly at first base.
There is no reason that the New York Yankees should not pick up Derek Dietrich for dirt cheap now. But rather than get arbitration money, he will probably get paid more than expected. The match needs to happen though.
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