Pittsburgh Pirates News: Elias Diaz Signs with a New Team

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Earlier this offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates non-tendered a group of players including catcher Elias Diaz.  Diaz has now signed on with another club.

The biggest need that has been talked about for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason has been the catcher position.  The team did sign catcher Luke Maile to a contract, but with an option left he very well could be depth at Triple-A Indianapolis to start the year.  Even if he is on the big league roster, with a 26 man roster carrying a third catcher could be plausible, he hit under .200 last year and should not be relied on as a potential impact player.

This all started earlier this offseason.  When the Pittsburgh Pirates hired General Manager Ben Cherington, he made it publicly known that the team was going to seek upgrades at the catcher position at both the Major League and Minor League levels.  This became even more apparent when it was announced that the team was cutting ties with catcher Elias Diaz.  He was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates toward the beginning of December.

Diaz had a breakout campaign during the 2018 season.  He, along with Francisco Cervelli, wound up being one of the best catching tandems in the National League.  The 29-year-old hit .286/.339/.452 with 10 home runs in 82 games.  Overall pretty solid numbers for his first extended taste of big-league action.  Diaz always had projectable power and showed it in 2018.  His ISO was .167 and he had 22 total extra-base hits in essentially half of a season played.  Diaz also kept his strikeout percent below 15 percent, which in today’s game is very impressive.

Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates were hoping Diaz would build on his success from 2018.  Instead, he regressed big time.  He struggled behind the plate and at the plate, with the offense being the bigger concern being he is an offense-first player.  Last year he slashed a poor .241/.296/.307 with just two home runs.

Obviously, Diaz’s batting average and on-base percentage went down.  However, the most concerning thing was his decrease in power.  He had 16 extra-base hits in 101 games played.  His ISO dropped nearly 100 points going down to a well below league average (.187) at .066.

With him entering his age 29 season and in his first year of arbitration, the Pittsburgh Pirates new Front Office deemed that Diaz was not going to be a part of the future plans.  Instead, he will now be a part of the Colorado Rockies organization.  The Rockies inked Diaz to a minor league contract yesterday, which shows what teams around the league thought of Diaz as well.

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Hopefully, the Pittsburgh Pirates made the right move in letting him go.  Diaz had a relatively small sample size at the big league level and had a lot of success in 2018.  However, even if he rebounds in 2020, the Bucs can make everything fine if they go out and get a legit catching option to pair with Jacob Stallings.