Cardinals sign Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz

Former Cuban star signs major league deal with defending National League champion.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed Cuban free-agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz (pronounced ah-led-mees) to a Major League contract and he will report to the Cardinals Major League spring training camp tomorrow (Monday, March 10).

Diaz, 23, batted .315 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 270 at-bats during his final season (2012) playing for Los Naranjas de Villa Clara in Cuba's Serie Nacional professional league. Serie Nacional is Cuba's highest level professional league and has produced such recent stars as Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes, the Dodgers Yasiel Puig and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman. Diaz played five seasons (2008-12) for Los Naranjas de Villa Clara starting when he was age 17, and his Los Naranjas de Villa Clara teammates included the White Sox Dayan Viciedo and the Rangers Leonys Martin.

"We have been following Aledmys for quite some time," stated Cardinals Senior Vice President/General Manager John Mozeliak. "His signing marks a significant benchmark for the Cardinals in the international arena and we are excited to have reached this agreement."

Diaz is considered to be an offensively-gifted middle infielder who the Cardinals anticipate will begin the 2014 season at the high minor league level as he becomes familiar with the organization. The 6-1, 195-pound right-handed hitting Diaz held a private workout for the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. last month.

Diaz, born on August 1, 1990 in Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba, has represented Cuba in several international tournaments, including the 2010 World University Championship games in Tokyo, Japan. He currently resides in Mexico City, Mexico.

Diaz will look to join such Cuban notables as catcher Eli Marrero, pitcher Rene Arocha and catcher Mike Gonzalez to have played for the Cardinals at the Major League level. Gonzalez, who had three separate playing stints with St. Louis (1915-18, 1924-25 and 1931-32), also coached for the Cardinals from 1934-46 and he served briefly as the Cardinals manager during parts of the 1938 and 1940 seasons.

Scouting video: Click here for an in-depth scouting report on Diaz, including video, from Scout's national baseball analyst Kiley McDaniel.

Updates: Several media sources are reporting the deal is for four years. Financial terms are not yet known.

According to Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, Diaz' four-year contract is for just $8 million - a substantial difference from the under $20 million initially reported and the $20-30 million pre-signing estimates. To me that speaks volumes as to Diaz' actual versus perceived value.

Specifics of the contract terms from the Associated Press: Diaz receives a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of $500,000 this year, $1.5 million in 2015 and $2 million in each of the final two seasons.

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