Is there a role for Yandy Diaz with the Cleveland Indians?

It is no secret that Yandy Diaz is a capable major league hitter, but his lack of defensive ability has kept him in the minor leagues. Looking at him offensively though, there is a reason to be skeptical about how he will develop as a hitter in the majors. With Jose Ramirez set to move back to third base once Josh Donaldson leaves Cleveland in the off-season what will happen to Yandy Diaz?

Diaz’s Production

In his brief stint in Cleveland this season, Diaz posted a 1.2 offensive WAR while posting a -1.4 defensive WAR. Diaz posted a .297 batting average and a .333 OBP with the Indians, compared to his .293 average and .401 OBP with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. One concerning stat when looking at Diaz offensively is his 16.4 walk percentage in Columbus has not transferred over to the big leagues. He is now walking just 5.4% of the time. Walks are an important part of Diaz’s game and he has not been as successful. Examining his offensive stats further, he also has a low ISO (.129) which is something that is a little concerning with a third baseman. In Triple-A he had an ISO of just .095. If he had enough bats to qualify, Diaz would rank in the bottom third of the league, among third baseman, in ISO. His teammate, Jose Ramirez, ranks first with a .294 mark.

What does this mean for Diaz?

When looking at Diaz holistically at the plate, he doesn’t seem to jump off the page like some may think. His offensive output doesn’t make up for his lack of defensive ability, especially with Jose Ramirez set to play third next year. With Jason Kipnis making 14.5 million next year and his significant improvement offensively, it is hard to see the Indians moving Ramirez to second and Kipnis to the outfield for Yandy Diaz. With Yandy running out of options, I could see the Indians putting Diaz’s name out there in a package to try and bolster their bullpen for next season. If not they will likely start him out at Triple-A next season.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona has already been on record as saying Diaz is not an outfielder at the major league level, however, he’s 27 years old and is blocked at third base by one of the best in baseball. Keep an eye on Diaz and any potential movement once the winter meetings approach.

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