The Pirates announced Wednesday that they’ve designated first baseman Lewin Diaz for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster will go to recently signed first baseman Carlos Santana, who joined the Bucs on a one-year deal earlier this week. Pittsburgh had claimed Diaz off waivers from the Marlins earlier in the month.
Diaz, 26, originally signed with the Twins for a $1.4MM bonus back in 2013 and has at times been considered a reasonably high-profile prospect — both in the Twins’ system and with the Marlins, who acquired him in the 2019 trade that sent Sergio Romo to Minnesota.
Diaz had a particularly strong run with the Marlins in the upper minors, but he received auditions in three separate Major League seasons without establishing himself as a credible offensive presence. In 343 trips to the plate at the MLB level, Diaz is just a .181/.227/.340 hitter with a 28.9% strikeout rate against a tepid 5.5% walk rate. He drew grades for plus raw power potential as a prospect but hasn’t been able to consistently make hard contact in spite of his 6’4″ frame.
For all of his struggles at the plate, however, Diaz excels defensively. His glove received 70 grades on the 20-80 scale as a prospect, and he’s demonstrated exactly why during his limited MLB action. Diaz has just 753 innings at first base but nonetheless has tallied a whopping 16 Defensive Runs Saved and 9 Outs Above Average.
Diaz is out of minor league options, so any team that acquires him will need to either carry him on its Opening Day roster next season or attempt to pass him through waivers before sending him to the minors. He’s a .250/.325/.504 hitter in two Triple-A seasons and has been particularly effective against right-handed pitching when at his best. As such, it’s possible another team will view him as a viable platoon option at first base — one with some untapped potential.
The Pirates will have a week to trade Diaz or attempt to pass him through waivers themselves. Pittsburgh had the third priority on the waiver wire, based on last year’s reverse standings (which, contrary to popular belief, are not league-specific). That means both the Nats and A’s passed on him last time around, so it’s unlikely (though certainly not impossible) they’d claim him this time around.
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