The Rockies went out and got a catcher. He will likely compete with Drew Butera for the backup spot, but another option has signed. Welcome to Denver, Elias Díaz.
The 28-year old Díaz has recorded 815 big league plate appearances over 250 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates over five MLB seasons, and was the primary catcher for the Pirates in 2019. He appeared in over 100 games last year, despite time on the injured list at the beginning of the season.
Díaz is signed to a minor league contract but with an invite to big league camp in Spring Training. Drew Butera appeared in 16 games for Colorado in 2019, so Díaz had a lot more MLB experience this past season. Butera has appeared in twice as many career games, but he’s also 36, seven years older than Díaz.
Tony Wolters is 28 and had more at-bats than the two combined last year.
It can still be an optimistic sign to bring in the number one catcher for the Pirates just a year ago. It came because he was non-tendered by Pittsburgh, though. Pittsburgh’s secondary catcher, Jacob Stallings, managed to hit better than Díaz in all three slash line figures last year.
The Díaz signing shares some resemblance to the Chris Owings deal just a few days ago in that both are signing to minor league deals with a few years of MLB experience under their belt. These types of moves continue to be the extent of roster adjustments the Rockies have made this offseason—virtually all offseason moves by Colorado this year have been either bringing guys in on minor league contracts, or promoting in-house minor leaguers to avoid the Rule 5 Draft. Díaz is arbitration eligible in 2020; Owings’ service time has already elapsed that mark.
Díaz has been property of the Pirates organization since 2009. He was managed in Pittsburgh by former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle.
Would you be more apt to agree with an Arenado trade if Wade Davis, Jake McGee and/or Bryan Shaw were involved?
Would you have the same desire to attend games in 2020 like in previous years if a deal like that actually went through?
Colorado’s offseason spending is clearly limited as Davis, Shaw and McGee will combine to make $35.5 million in 2020. If the Rockies are looking to hit the reset button as hard as possible, one option is always to unload—or at least ‘attempt’ to unload—the highest paid players for them to find value on other teams. The improved financial freedom can help make the magic happen a few years later.
Wade Davis’ 8.65 ERA in 2019 didn’t really make any magic happen, and selling others on his current value would take a lot more than a smile. One farfetched approach may be to include Mr. Platinum Glove in a potential package deal.
Let’s say it’s Arenado and Davis in a package deal—over 35 percent of the team payroll would be freed up. Jeff Bridich could then put the white flag of a rebuild at least within his grasp, if he so chose.
It would also remove the face of the franchise, and potentially cause an attendance decline because of it.
Nolan Arenado’s no-trade clause could be what keeps a package like that from happening—the deal would have to be more in his best interests rather than the interests of a team salary bailout, or he could easily say no.
This complicates the details of such a transaction, especially as the offseason is now half over. A deal like this being discussed in November would provide a bigger pool of teams to negotiate with before they commit their money elsewhere. The first game of Spring Training is just 47 days away; the likelihood of a deal like this happening diminishes by the day.