At best (for him), the former Brave figures to be a fourth outfielder sorely needed with the departure of Andruw Jones.
Diaz can play the corner outfield positions (Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner can both play center field) and hits righty, something sorely needed with an all lefty starting lineup in the outfield.
Regardless, it’s unlikely the Designated Hitter spot will belong to Eduardo Nunez and New York still has room for one more offensive player on the 25 man roster, so signing Diaz does not appear to be the final move for an offensive player.
When A-Rod returns, it’s likely him and Youkilis will platoon as DH/3B, but until then, the Yankees could use another bat, and with Dickerson’s presence and ability to play all three outfield positions, right-handed would be preferable.
Once Laroche signs, all the stars are aligning for a trade of a back-end starter for Morse, who fulfills everything the Yankees need.
Morse bats righty, plays outfield and has a powerful bat and he is in a walk year.
If Laroche goes to Washington, the only team rumored at any point to be serious (and he comes with qualified offer status), Morse becomes expendable.
Which is why the Yankees would be wise to resign D.J. Mitchell, who was designated for assignment by the Mariners today the same time they covered themselves in the event Laroche doesn’t head back to Washington.
Mitchell was a former Yankees’ prospect, and at 25 years old is a serviceable, Major League ready, back-end starter.
If the Yankees claim Mitchell off waivers, it means someone like Ivan Nova, a back-end arm with poise, proven and under team control, would be more expendable in a trade.
The Nationals are reportedly in need of pitching, the Yankees wouldn’t need to part with anything big for one year of Morse, and Phelps, Mitchell and Marshall can more than compensate for the loss of Nova, particularly with Michael Pineda likely ready by June.
Mitchell could also be used as trade bait to perhaps get a middle infield prospect back in the Washington deal if both teams wanted to expand the potential exchange.
In addition, the Yankees should go after (possibly) crazy, Dallas Braden.
Braden and Alex Rodriguez may not get along after the whole “get off my mound” scandal, but it’s unlikely many people have a great rapport with Rodriguez before entering the Bronx anyway.
Braden is just 29 years old, still available and has only ever pitched in Oakland, which should scare whatever teams might be interested and can offer more than a one year contract, away from approaching the right-hander.
Braden pitched just 18 innings last season because of injuries, but delivered a 3.50 ERA in 192.2 innings with less than a hit per inning and just over a 1.15 WHIP in 2011.
A one year contract would be mutually beneficial since Braden can reclaim his value with an opportunity to pitch in meaningful games (and would likely crack the rotation with Phelps destined for the bullpen and Nova gone in a hypothetical trade) and the chance to be a Free Agent at the age of just 30 years old after 2013.
If the Yankees sign Braden and Mitchell in addition to adding Diaz, keeping Dickerson and swapping Nova (and possibly someone like Adam Warren) for Morse, they could then designate Melky Mesa (or Dickerson since Mesa is a righty and offers plentiful speed without the cache of a top prospect) and someone like Cody Eppley, who I suspect to be a one season type of reliever.
By ridding themselves of Warren (who is the same age but offers less than Mitchell), Dickerson/Mesa and Nova, and adding Morse, Diaz and Braden, the Yankees can balance the roster and fill in the rest of the holes in the offense, while still maintaining depth on the pitching staff.
They would also have guys like Rodriguez, Pineda, Cesar Cabral (who may not be ready out of Spring Training) Marshall and infielder David Adams, Major League ready and capable of making a MLB impact as reserves going into 2013, something sorely needed with such an aging roster.