For the second time in three games, an error led to an all-around solid night, and with it, a hearty debate.
Yandy Diaz turned an early error into a couple of wondrous stabs at third, as well as a 1-for-4 night at the plate, with some hard outs.
So, when Jason Kipnis – the man who Diaz is essentially replacing as Jose Ramirez’s fill-in at third – returns, what does the front office do with their rookie?
That depends on your options. Assuming Abraham Almonte is demoted when Lonnie Chisenhall returns, the front office could decide to either:
- Designate Michael Martinez for assignment
- Designate Austin Jackson for assignment
- Option Diaz to Triple-A Columbus
Terry Francona seems to have a preference that he have a utility infielder. He also more than likely would prefer that Jose Ramirez, a player certainly equipped to play multiple spots on the field, remain consistent at third base.
Regardless of whether or not it were Martinez or Jackson who was parted with, Diaz would be forced into the outfield.
With the return of Chisenhall, the rookie would be the odd man out, fighting for spot starts over the incumbent RF and Michael Brantley in LF. Brandon Guyer is also as solid in a platoon role with Chisenhall as conceivably possible.
There is no room for Diaz on this team just yet. Injuries will happen, allowing Diaz to appear from Columbus, but he is a victim of the team’s success for now.
They say depth is a good problem to have, but is it?
Obviously it is…but is it?
If consistency at one position is a priority for Tito, then common logic would assume that Diaz would be bred as the everyday third baseman at AAA, which would displace defensive dynamo Gio Urshela at the position.
Urshela could become a utility man at the AAA level to breed him for that role at the next level, but Erik Gonzalez is already set to succeed Martinez in that role in the big leagues at any point.
Likely, if the front office sees Diaz as the future in any regard, the idea would be to no longer let the future be dictated by the man he passed up.
Outside of the ripple effect at the minor league level, the team’s entire infield outside of first base seems set in stone. Ramirez just signed an extension that could keep him locked up through 2023, Kipnis is signed until 2020, and Francisco Lindor won’t even hit arbitration until 2019.
So logically, it would make the most sense to plant Diaz not only back in the minors, but back in the outfield, where he played 53 games a year ago.
Michael Brantley has an $11 million team option for 2018, and if his health fails him, Diaz may prove a more sensible option going forward. Chisenhall is set to hit free agency after next season, and Diaz could end up filling that hole as well.
In the end, it would seem counter-intuitive to move Diaz away from the position that helped him figure more into the future plans, but the future may be better for it.