It was shaping up to be just another day of waiting for Ken Rosenthal or Jon Heyman to tweet something interesting. And then here comes Susan Slusser:
Count the #Athletics among the teams with interest in Yasmany Tomas; I'm told they have discussed him, have seen him "a lot" past 18 months.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) November 12, 2014
We've heard so many whispers about Tomas that it would be useful just to get a single profile of just who this Cuban defector is.
Yasmany Tomas: the abridged biography
Tomas defected from Cuba on June 20, and turns 24 on November 14. The 6'1" 230-pound right-handed hitter played in the outfield of Cuba's Series Nacional, and is expected to play in the corner outfield in MLB. In the last three seasons of Cuban baseball, Tomas can be best described as a slugger, though it was reported by Ben Badler of Baseball America ("Power Hitter Yasmani Tomas Leaves Cuba") that Tomas dealt with an arm injury in the 2013-14 campaign:
Tomas was cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control on September 10 and MLB declared Tomas a free agent on October 2. As a 23-year-old player with at least five seasons in the Cuban league, Tomas is exempt from the international bonus money rules. Tomas is therefore expected to earn a contract larger than Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo's six-year, $72.5 million deal completed last August, primarily because Tomas is about five years younger than Castillo.
Here's Tomas taking batting practice during a showcase for MLB teams last September in the Dominican Republic:
Badler had this to say about his performance at the World Baseball Classic:
Tomas did show some swing-and-miss tendencies at the WBC with an uppercut stroke and trouble handling good breaking pitches. Three months after the WBC, when Cuba took a team to the U.S. last summer to face the college national team, the U.S. power arms were able to exploit some of those holes by beating him with good velocity up and in and getting him to swing through soft stuff in and out of the zone.
On the other hand:
Or the other way:
And yes, it is spelled with two 'y's.
The Tomas people tell me it's spelled Yasmany, @InsidetheZona.— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) September 19, 2014
What would the A's want with Yasmany Tomas?
If the deal is going to be a seven- or eight-year deal at around $12 or $13 million per year, the A's will probably have to pass, because they just do not take the risk of this sort of long term deal. However, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News posited the possibility of a three-year deal that would let more teams join the bidding and let Tomas reach free agency at 26 ("Michael Cuddyer is a solid move for NY Mets -- but can't be the only one; another option for Tomas"). Like the deal for Yoenis Cespedes, such a deal would not come with a compensatory draft pick at the end of the contract, because it is technically an agreement to decline to tender a contract to a player under six years of MLB service time.
Then again, the A's are practically drowning in outfielders at the moment between Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry, Josh Reddick, and Coco Crisp, not to mention Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt, and Kyle Blanks. Still, an outfielder like Tomas in left field can more comfortably push Fuld and Gentry into the regular center field role if the A's want to move Coco Crisp into more of a designated hitter role. This means other dominoes start falling, like the thought of having John Jaso play more DH.
And then there's the small matter of Tomas still being a really expensive get in a spot where the A's will soon be facing escalating arbitration costs from several players, a need to replace Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir in 2016, and still no upgrade in 2015 to either of the middle infield positions.
Projected 2015 payroll is already about $73 million, 2014 Opening Day payroll was $82 million and 2014 ended on about $95 million with acquisitions according to David Forst in an interview with Troy Clardy of 95.7 the game on November 6. If the A's can get Tomas for just three years and upgrade at least one of the middle infield positions, then I am all for it. Otherwise I would rather concentrate on the middle infield and add a starting pitcher project.