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The Pirates Plunder Toronto

I have to admit that I have not been a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ moves in recent years, but things are beginning to change. The Manny Ramirez deal, which the Pirates were involved in as the third team in, netted the organization some interesting players, as did the Xavier Nady trade with the New York Yankees.

After dealing with two powerhouse AL East teams, the Pirates made a smaller deal with another team in the division, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Pirates sent underachieving Jose Bautista, a former Rule 5 player who was playing at Triple-A and is eligible for arbitration after the season, to the Jays for a player to be named later. Bautista will help fill in for the perennially-injured Scott Rolen at third base.

The player-to-be-named-later was named yesterday, and it was Triple-A catcher Robinzon Diaz. I don’t like the trade from the Jays’ perspective because general manager J.P. Ricciardi – once again – sold low on a player. Diaz is a bad-ball hitter who has excellent hand-eye coordination and is a .300-plus career hitter (.306 in seven seasons), albeit with no power. He had been struggling at Triple-A, but had also missed a good portion of the season due to a severe ankle sprain.

Diaz was made expendable for Toronto because of the emergence of catcher Brian Jeroloman (Triple-A), and J.P. Arencibia (Double-A), both of whom were drafted and acquired under the Ricciardi tenure, while Diaz was not (Ricciardi seems to have a large bias for his own players).

The soon-to-be 25 year old catcher is very athletic and can play just about any where but shortstop and center field. He has an average arm for a catcher and pretty good catching skills, but his game calling has been criticized by Jays’ minor league pitchers. He should make a great third-string catcher and back-up at third base and second base.

Diaz will not be a superstar but he will be a solid addition to a National League club in rebuilding mode. With both of Toronto’s catching facing free agency this winter, he is also someone that organization could have used more than an arbitration-eligible utility player who cannot hit above .250.