Blue Jays cut ties with Ryan Goins, acquire shortstop Aledmys Diaz from Cardinals


The Toronto Blue Jays opened a new chapter in their attempt to build bench depth on the major league roster by parting with Ryan Goins and making a trade to acquire his replacement.

Goins was not offered a contract for the 2018 season prior to the deadline for doing so at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. The Blue Jays also non-tendered pitcher Tom Koehler.

Joining the club is infielder Aledmys Diaz in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. Diaz, an All-Star in 2016 as a rookie, declined last season, lost his job at shortstop to Paul DeJong and was demoted back to Triple-A. With a surplus of infielders with similar skills, the Cardinals elected to move on from Diaz. The Jays sent outfielder J.B. Woodman, a 22-year-old 2016 second-round draft pick, to the Cardinals in return.

Diaz does not have the defensive reputation of Goins, although defensive metrics often showed Goins was not the defender he was made out to be. Over the last two seasons at shortstop, Goins graded out slightly better than Diaz according to Fangraphs’ data but they were both below average.

Troy Tulowitzki is the Jays’ incumbent shortstop and his stellar defence overcomes the offensive decline he has suffered since coming to Toronto. But Tulowitzki has only exceeded 500 plate appearances in three of the last six seasons and second base incumbent Devon Travis has lost time to injury in all three of his major league seasons. Diaz presents a better offensive replacement than Goins, Darwin Barney, who is a free agent, or Rob Refsnyder, who was claimed on waivers earlier in the offseason. The Jays had also recently acquired Gift Ngoepe from Pittsburgh but he represents organizational depth more than a solid major-league bench option.

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Diaz played in the top Cuban league for five seasons starting as a 16-year-old in 2007. He was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in 2014 and was in the majors by 2016. In his rookie season, he hit .300 with an .857 OPS and 17 homers in 460 plate appearances. He got off to a poor start in 2017, hitting .217 in April but rebounded in May. A middling June was enough for the Cardinals to lose faith in him and he was abruptly demoted to Triple-A Memphis on June 29 despite leading the team in hits. He didn’t get back to the majors until the rosters expanded in September. By then, DeJong had cemented himself at shortstop on the way to finishing second to the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in National League rookie-of-the-year voting. (Diaz had finished fifth for rookie of the year in 2016.)

If Diaz’s power returns, he could push Travis for innings at second base. Travis missed the second half of the 2017 season because of more trouble with his right knee, which also cost him time in 2016. Travis was back on the field in late August fielding grounders but suffered a setback and never returned to action. Presumably he will be ready for the start of spring training but the Jays were quite cautious with him last spring, holding him out of action until the final week.

Goins ends his tenure with the Jays after five major league seasons having hit .228 over that time with a dismal .611 OPS. He showed a preturnatural ability to hit with men on base last season, driving in an astounding 62 runs despite hitting only .237. He hit .330 with men on base but .199 with the bases empty. He had exceeded three years’ of service time meaning he was arbitration-eligible for 2018. The Jays would have been hard-pressed to pay him the bump in salary due as he moved out of his major-league-minimum years. projected him at US$1.8 million. He made $548,200 in 2017.

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Goins’ positional flexibility and defensive reputation could earn him a job next season, especially on a National League bench.

It was also revealed Friday that Andrew Tinnish, a Blue Jays assistant general manager, had changed his mind about taking a job with the Atlanta Braves. He had agreed to join Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves’ new general manager and Tinnish’s former Blue Jays boss, as Atlanta’s vice-president of amateur and international scouting.

Atlanta said Tinnish changed his mind because of family considerations, opting to remain with the Blue Jays.

— with files from The Associated Press




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