The Yankees and Mets both made quiet minor league contract offers this week.
The Yankees have inked former Hudson Valley Renegades outfielder Matt Diaz to a minor league pact that includes an invitation to spring training and a possible $2 million payday based largely on incentives.
Diaz made his professional debut in 1999, hitting .245 in 54 games with the Renegades. Hudson Valley won the New York-Penn League championship that year. Diaz then played off-and-on through the minor leagues until 2005 before becoming a big league regular with the Braves in 2006. In his 10-year major league career, Diaz has hit .291 with 45 home runs in 726 games. A right-handed thrower and hitter, Diaz has a .324 career batting average against lefties, but that dropped to .269 in 51 games played with the Braves last season.
The Yankees are in the market for a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder who could platoon at designated hitter, so if Diaz plays well in spring training he could be a good fit in Andruw Jones’ old spot in the Yankees’ clubhouse. If he doesn’t work out, it’s just a minor league deal, so no problem for the Yankees.
With Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro all capable of playing center field – Ichiro played five games there last year and last saw significant time in center in 2008 – the Yankees can afford to take on corner outfielder types like Diaz to round out the 25-man roster. The Yankees probably aren’t done looking for help on the roster, but Diaz looks like a solid, if uninspiring, backup plan for now.
Today, the Mets picked up left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey on a minor league deal. Laffey, who started his career in Cleveland, also made stops with the Yankees and Mariners before starting 16 games for the Blue Jays in 2012.
Laffey started his career as a starting pitcher, but moved to the bullpen in Cleveland in 2010. He returned to a starting role in 2012 but also made six bullpen appearances for Toronto.
As the Yankees did with Diaz, it’s a minor league deal. The Mets could certainly use some help in the bullpen, but Laffey could also be a candidate to take one of the spots in the back end of the rotation. It’s a no-risk move that could pay dividends, so why not?
In other news, the UniWatch blog over at ESPN had a post today on the new-look batting practice caps being used by major league teams in 2013. The Mets and Yankees both have interesting designs.
The Mets cap features Mr. Met on a blue cap with an orange brim.
The Yankees will have a cap with a white brim at home and one with a gray brim on the road.
Click on the link above to see the sketches.
It’s hard to believe, but spring training is right around the corner. What moves would you make to shore up the Yankees’ or Mets’ roster if you were the GM? Let me know on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.