Word is that Robinzon Diaz, he of the 4-AB cup of coffee and awful injury luck this year, is the PTBNL (player to be named later, what? you didn't know that by now?) headed to the Pirates in exchange for utilityman Jose Bautista. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that Russ Adams is still a Jays' farmhand.
Now, I'm going to leave aside the fact that Bautista would probably be a non-tender candidate in the winter had he remained a Pirate because of his cost after arbitration, thus making him freely available had JP held off a few more weeks. And I also won't mention that he's really not that much better, offensively or defensively, than Hector Luna, who's already in the Jays system. Or that the Jays had no better than a 3% chance of making the playoffs when Bautista was acquired and really didn't need to add a veteran. I didn't just say all of those things and am now moving on to Diaz...
Let's take a look at the young catcher. He has his flaws (the typical Latin disdain for the base on balls, defensive rawness), but he was always a good hitter for average and had chalked up slow, but steady improvements in his slugging percentage starting at A ball at age 20 right up to his short stint at AAA last year at 23. And then he was struck by an assortment of injuries this year (a bad ankle sprain cost him 2 and a half months) that really hampered the incremental progress he'd been making and robbed him of at least a short-term stint with the Jays.
Of the three top catchers in the system (Diaz/Jeroloman/Arrencibia), Diaz was the closest to being big league ready and I would have given him a mulligan on 2008 and let him try to make the big club as Barajas' backup in spring training. When we had three young catchers with upside we had the luxury of letting them develop at their own speed, albeit with a bit of friendly competition to spur them on. Now we're down to two and should one flame out Guillermo Quiroz-style, then all that depth behind the plate is gone.
JP Ricciardi rarely makes bad trades and that is to his credit as a GM. Still, when the initial speculation was that he'd be sending Russ Adams or a redundant reliever like Frasor (non-tender candidate) or Tallet (probably would've been traded for something like Bautista in the off season) over to the Pirates, I could accept the logic of trading for Bautista. But to give up a younger player who might've been useful in 2009 as a stopgap until JPA's ready for veteran filler with only the longest of Hail Mary shots at the post-season? And where do you find playing time for this guy next year with Hill and Rolen hopefully healthy and J-Mac, Scutaro, and Inglett already filling out your bench?
Time will tell, but I'd say JP got snookered on this one.
-- Johnny Was