The Pirates have agreed to terms with outfielder Matt Diaz, who was recently non-tendered by the Braves, on a two-year deal. The financials haven’t yet been released, but this probably isn’t a good move. Diaz will be 33 before the season starts, and his already limited skill set (hitting lefties, not getting hit by flying foam tomahawks in the outfield) is showing signs of slipping, as he posted just a .739 OPS last year. He was significantly better in 2009, but at 33, it doesn’t seem wise to bet on a huge comeback.
In addition, the Pirates already had a much younger guy in Lastings Milledge with basically the same set of skills, and they deemed him not only unworthy of a two-year contract, but not even worthy of the $1 million or $1.5 million he would have received in arbitration. And there’s another younger and cheaper guy, Steve Pearce, who is similar but can also play good defense at first base (in the outfield, he’s not so great, but neither is Diaz), who will be blocked further because of this move. We’re not yet sure how much the Pirates are spending, but the likelihood that they get very little this year and absolutely nothing out of this deal next year is very, very high. Bad signing.
UPDATE: Diaz actually struggled mightily at the beginning of last season, then had surgery on his thumb and hit much better after that. I'm skeptical of the idea that the thumb was entirely to blame for Diaz's subpar season, but at least that's one possible explanation. Let's hope it turns out to be a critical one, and that Diaz stays healthy this year.