He may not have played in 100 games in 3 of the last 5 seasons; he may not have posted a wRC+ above 100 in each of the last 3 seasons; he may not even be completely healthy. But in signing Matt Diaz to a Minor League deal yesterday, the Yankees at least gave themselves another option to find a right-handed platoon outfield bat, and the more options the better right now.
As first reported by Mark Feinsand, the Yanks signed the 34-year-old Diaz to a non-guaranteed MiL deal with an invite to Spring Training that gives him the chance to earn up to $2 million if he makes the team out of camp. Diaz is far removed from his best year in 2009 (.383 wOBA in 125 games), and has had major problems with his thumb, but reports are that he's feeling better and swinging a bat. He posted just a .268 wOBA and 64 wRC+ in 118 PA with the Braves in 2012, but managed a .269/.329/.410 line against left-handed pitching (.320 wOBA) and still has a .324/.364/.498 career slash against southpaws.
He's absolutely not a full-time player anymore, and he could very well be washed up after all the thumb problems the last 3+ years. But Diaz is the type of low risk/high reward veteran bat the Yankees have had success with in recent years. It worked with Marcus Thames in 2010, it worked with Raul Ibanez in 2012, so why not take a chance on Diaz for 2013? If he gives the team anything it's a good move. If he doesn't, the Yankees cut bait and lose nothing.