SF Giants sign former top outfield prospect to minors contract

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages
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The SF Giants bolstered organizational outfield depth earlier this week. According to the team's transaction log, former top outfield prospect Yusniel Díaz has signed a minor league deal with the club.

SF Giants sign former top outfield prospect to minors contract

For one reason or another, the Giants do not normally list whether a player is receiving a camp invite or not. That said, it would be fair to assume that Díaz will appear in spring training given that he has a lot of experience in the upper minors. Teams generally have to rely on minor league free agency to augment the Double-A and Triple-A rosters because many of their own minor leaguers become free agents at the start of each offseason.

For the Giants, this is the second minor league signing they have made in the offseason. The first was signing speedy outfielder Chase Pinder.

Díaz landed an enormous $15.5 million signing bonus as an international free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015. He was regarded as one of the top prospects in the Dodgers' farm system before he was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles as part of a six-player deal that sent star shortstop Manny Machado to Los Angeles in 2018.

For the Orioles, Díaz was the centerpiece of that package and considered one of the top prospects in baseball, ranking as high as No. 37 according to Baseball America prior to the 2019 season. Though, the Orioles have not received much value from that deal with the exception of pitcher Dean Kremer.

Nevertheless, Díaz has put together a respectable pro career, slashing .264/.345/.421 with a 10.9 percent walk rate, 21.1 percent strikeout rate, and a .157 ISO across seven minor league seasons. He has struggled to the tune of a .608 OPS in two years in Triple-A. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs wondered in 2021 if Díaz's swing would struggle against higher velocity and that has been the case in Triple-A.

Earlier in his career, the right-handed bat flashed solid tools across the board, but nothing that was exceptionally loud. He controlled the strike zone well, hit for gap-to-gap power, and was an above-average corner outfielder. However, that skill set has struggled against more advanced competition.

The 27-year-old only tallied one at-bat with the Orioles in 2022 before being released and rejoining the Dodgers organization for 2023. He now joins a Giants organization that might need more help in Double-A than Triple-A, but it would not be a surprise if he spends time in both leagues next year.