Among the Yankees secondary concerns this winter is their lack of depth in the outfield. The roster has a few young players who filled holes last season, but the Yankees need a fourth outfielder who they can count on for occasional starts in the corners, especially against left-handed pitching.
That’s where Matt Diaz comes into the picture.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Yankees have shown some interest in the former Braves outfielder. He’s a free agent, and he seems to fit all the necessary criteria.
1. He hits lefties. With a switch hitter and two lefties in the starting lineup, the Yankees could use someone from the right side. They don’t necessarily need to setup a platoon, but adding a righty makes much more sense than adding a lefty and basically just as much sense as adding a switch hitter. Diaz is a right-handed hitter who’s hit lefties to the tune of a .335/.373/.533 slash line in his career. Even last season, in down year, Diaz had a .512 slugging percentage against lefties.
2. He’s not a bad everyday option. If someone gets hurt and the Yankees need a bench player to make regular starts, they could do worse than Diaz. He’s actually been at his best when’s seen regular playing time. He’s had more than 300 plate appearances in a season three times. Those have been his best years, hitting better than .300 with a .360-plus on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .475 or better. As recently as 2009 he hit .313/.390/.488. Is he a sure thing? Of course not, but sure things don’t settle for bench roles.
3. He’s readily available. No need to get tricky here. Diaz is a free agent, having been non-tendered by the Braves after making $2.55 million last season. I don’t want to venture a guess at how much he might cost, but he wouldn’t cost anything in terms of prospects or young players. He’s not the only guy who fits the Yankees needs — and the Yankees surely aren’t the only team interested — but he at least seems like an option worth considering.