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Yasmani Tomas Rumors
The Reds had yet to place any of their starting pitchers on waivers as of Saturday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in his weekly “Full Count” video. As Rosenthal notes, their waiver status may be a moot point, as each would likely be claimed and subsequently pulled back. More highlights regarding the Reds and the rest of the league below…
- The real drama surrounding the Reds‘ rotation could come this offseason, as Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon will all be entering their final year of team control. The Reds will have to decide which, if any, they want to sign to a long-term deal, and Rosenthal notes that they will likely trade “at least” one. Latos is perhaps the likeliest candidate to be dealt, according to Rosenthal, who notes that both Latos and Cueto would command more than Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105MM contract.
- Rusney Castillo‘s six-year, $72.5MM contract with the Red Sox might not stand as the largest deal for a Cuban free agent very long. Yasmani Tomas is expected to be cleared as a free agent this offseason, and his huge raw power will be highly appealing, even if he is limited to left field, defensively speaking. As Rosenthal points out, Tomas is four years younger than Castillo and is against a crop of weak free agent bats. One executive that spoke with Rosenthal said the only flaw he sees in Castillo is his propensity to swing and miss.
- Rosenthal points back to a report of his prior to the trade deadline in which he had learned that the Nationals were looking for a young shortstop on the trade market. He’s now learned that Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks was one of their targets. Washington had planned on playing Gregorius at second base in the near-term and moving him back over to shortstop if Ian Desmond could not be retained. Of course, the club still wants to extend Desmond, who is a free agent following the 2015 season.
Following a tough start on Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett sounded as if retirement was on his mind when asked by reporters if he planned to pitch in 2015. “I have no idea. Probably not, but we’ll see,” Burnett told the media, including Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As Narducci notes, Burnett’s comments could be stemming from frustration given how both he and the Phillies have struggled this season, so it’s too early to assume Burnett is hanging up his glove. Narducci also cites Burnett’s competitive nature and his increasingly pricey player option for 2015 as reasons why the veteran righty won’t want to end his career quite yet.
Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…
- In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli of 97.5FM radio yesterday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said he wasn’t surprised that team president David Montgomery recently gave GM Ruben Amaro a vote of confidence but Stark feels no decision has been made about Amaro’s future yet. The Phillies’ other owners could get involved, and the anti-Amaro sentiment amongst the team’s fans could also play a role. “They are certainly going to make changes in the organization. There’s a lot of rumors swirling about all sorts of stuff below Ruben,” Stark said. With just one left year on Amaro’s contract, if the Phillies decide to keep him, Stark wonders if the GM could actually receive an extension in order to avoid lame-duck status. (Hat tip to Peter Mucha of Philly.com for the partial transcript of Stark’s interview.)
- “There are indications” the Phillies will make a strong play for Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. Tomas is expected to become eligible to sign this offseason, and the recently-defected outfielder is considered to be an intriguing power prospect.
- Burnett retiring would only make the Phillies’ offseason need for starting pitching all the more dire, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. The Phillies could have as many as three rotation spots to fill given Cliff Lee‘s injury issues, Burnett’s uncertain status and pending free agency for Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams. Lawrence predicts the Phils will target mid-tier starters this winter given how much payroll space is already tied up by Lee and Cole Hamels.
- Speaking of Kendrick, the right-hander recently discussed his free agency in general terms with reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Kendrick isn’t sure if he’ll remain in Philadelphia, saying “I want to go where whoever wants me. That’s where I want to go. If it’s here, great. If they want me. You want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. We’ll see. I don’t know.”
- Ken Giles looks like a closer of the future for the Phillies, and ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) suggests that that the team could take the bold step of installing Giles as the closer right now. The switch could also prevent Jonathan Papelbon from reaching his $13MM vesting option for 2016, which would help increase Papelbon’s trade value. Olney notes that Papelbon could easily file a grievance over the situation, though I’d argue that given Papelbon’s past comments about wanting to play for a contender, he might begrudgingly go along with the move if it helps get him out of Philadelphia.
Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams broke down everything you need to know entering the July 2 signing period. As it opens up officially, here’s the latest on the international market:
- Baseball America’s Ben Badler has excellent team-by-team forecasts for the 2014-15 July 2 market. In addition to covering the landing spots of some of the more notable available names, Badler also discusses teams’ differing approaches and predilections in this area of player acquisition.
- Armed with over $5MM in available pool money, the Astros expect to be “reasonably aggressive,” GM Jeff Luhnow tells MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “It’s a good class,” said Luhnow. “It’s deep and has got pitchers, position players. I’m excited about it. I think we’re going to add a lot of depth to our system this year.”
- Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to hold a showcase next week in Miami, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports on Twitter. Badler notes that Castillo could make an impact down the stretch; he has previously written that the 26-year-old is viewed as a major league-caliber, but not necessarily top-flight, talent.
- Yasmani Tomas, who recently defected from Cuba, is working with agent Jay Alou, reports Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 23-year-old outfielder will be exempt from spending limits, and is expected to draw significant interest based on his impressive power.
11:58pm: MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez hears that Tomas is currently in the Dominican Republic and exploring his options (Twitter link).
The 23-year-old Tomas has five professional seasons under his belt, and his combination of age and experience will make him exempt from MLB’s international spending limitations, even after the rules become tighter on July 2 (at that point, the amount of pro experience needed for exemption jumps from three years to five years).
Badler writes that Tomas, who stands 6’1″ and weighs 230 pounds, has 70-grade raw power (on the 20-80 scouting scale), and among current Cuban players, only the highly touted Alfredo Despaigne has more power. While Tomas has experience in center field and “decent” speed for his size, he’s ultimately a below-average runner and will have to play an outfield corner in the Majors. He does have some swing-and-miss tendencies and has shown weakness against plus velocity and breaking pitches. As such, some seasoning in Triple-A would do him some good, in Badler’s opinion, though he doesn’t rule out the possibility that Tomas could jump directly into a big league lineup. In response to a reader on Twitter, Badler notes that despite his upside, Tomas isn’t at the same level as White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, who was more polished coming out of Cuba.
Giving an idea of the type of production he’s shown in Cuba’s Series Nacional over the past few seasons, Badler writes that Tomas slashed .301/.340/.580 with 16 homers in 240 plate appearances in the 2011-12 season and .289/.364/.538 with 15 homers in 324 PA in 2012-13. Tomas regressed, to an extent, in the 2013-14 season, though one source tells Badler it was likely due to an arm injury that he sustained when crashing into the outfield wall midway through the season. Even in his “down” year, Tomas batted a healthy .290/.346/.450 with six homers in 257 PA.
Badler ranked Tomas as the No. 6 prospect in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He trailed the likes of Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Abreu, the aforementioned Despaigne, top Cuban second baseman Jose Fernandez and slugging infielder Yulieski Gourriel (who has declined since and is now playing in Japan).
Tomas is not yet eligible to sign, as he first needs to establish residence in a foreign country and then be cleared by both Major League Baseball and the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control. Once that happens, he will be declared a free agent and can sign with any team for any amount, but the timeline on those steps is never concrete, and Tomas may not end up signing until late in 2014 or even 2015.