Dealing Diaz Doesn’t Dent System Depth


Jul 23, 2009

Dealing Diaz Doesn't Dent System Depth In Boston, any trade is a big deal.

But because Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and his staff have assembled such a bulk of talent, rarely is any trade a big loss.

Wednesday's trading of shortstop Argenis Diaz and pitcher Hunter Strickland is the latest in trades that will probably not damage the Red Sox organization.

Diaz is known as a "plus-plus" fielder with a bat that's easy to overlook. After the Red Sox let one of the best defensive shortstops in franchise history in Alex Gonzalez walk away in favor of signing the offensive-minded Julio Lugo, the organization has made it clear that there's simply no room for a one-dimensional player.

(Lugo, of course, turned out to be a zero-dimensional player, but you can't fault the Sox for that.)

Fortunately for the Red Sox, despite losing one highly regarded shortstop from the system, another is ready to step into the newly opened spot.

One option is Casey Kelly, who will slide up the shortstop depth chart — much to his delight. The 19-year-old spent the first half of the 2009 season as a pitcher for Single-A Greenville, but his true passion seems to be playing short.

Since making the transition back to the field, Kelly's hit two homers with four RBIs in the Gulf Coast League. While trading Diaz doesn't guarantee that Kelly will definitely be a shortstop, his presence in the system helps the Sox make such a confident deal.

More immediately, the Sox have Yamaico Navarro, who was called up to Double-A Portland from Single-A Salem after Diaz was shipped to Pittsburgh. The 21-year-old has ascended quickly through the system with a steady glove and an impressive bat. With Salem this year, he was batting .319 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 23 games. A native of the Dominican Republic, Navarro assumes the spot previously occupied by Diaz in Portland.

Looking even deeper into the future of the organization, the Sox have signed 19-year-old Jose Iglesias, a Cuban shortstop who has already drawn comparisons to Ozzie Smith. The Red Sox reportedly spent more than $8 million to sign Iglesias, so it's clear the organization has high hopes for him.

Iglesias is hardly the youngest prospect in the system. The Red Sox also have Dominican shortstop Jose Vinicio, a 16-year-old who was one of the best players available in the international free-agent market. Vinicio possesses a strong defensive skill set and a promising approach at the plate. It's obviously too soon to place an exact projection on the kid, but, again, his presence in the system keeps the Red Sox with constantly replenishing depth.

So while Adam LaRoche may not be the bat that puts the Red Sox over the top for the World Series, one certainty is that the farm hasn't been burned. However distressing the shortstop situation may seem at the moment, there will always be a fresh face ready to take a stab.

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