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Yasmany Tomas Rumors
The Blue Jays‘ offseason agenda could include re-signing Melky Cabrera, acquiring a second or third baseman (for whichever position Brett Lawrie doesn’t play) and pursuing relief help, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star writes. The Jays are likely to extend Cabrera a qualifying offer and be proactive in trying to sign him. They’ll also need to patch up a bullpen that struggled this year and is likely to lose Casey Janssen to free agency. Pursuing starting pitching probably will not be a top priority, Kennedy suggests. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- Red Sox manager John Farrell says he would like his team to re-sign reliever Burke Badenhop, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier tweets. Badenhop posted a stellar 2.33 ERA in his first season with the Sox, albeit with less inspiring peripheral numbers (5.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9). He pitched reasonably well in the Marlins, Rays and Brewers bullpens before joining the Red Sox via trade last November.
- The Marlins have shown interest in Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas and second baseman Hector Olivera but are unlikely to seriously pursue either, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Tomas will be expensive, and the Marlins already have a strong trio of outfield starters. Olivera is older and doesn’t have Tomas’ star power, so the Marlins could simply depend on Donovan Solano and Enrique Hernandez at second base instead.
Last October, despite some questions about his ability, Cuban slugger Jose Abreu signed a six-year, $68MM contract with the White Sox heading into his age-27 season. Abreu’s MLB debut exceeded the most optimistic expectations, and now another Cuban player known for huge power is about to burst on the scene: Yasmany Tomas. Tomas, just 24 in November, defected from Cuba in June and should be granted MLB free agency shortly. He’s a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder with five years in Cuba’s Serie Nacional under his belt, and that experience, paired with his age, makes him exempt from international spending limitations. Teams will be able to spend whatever they wish to sign him.
The opportunity to sign a potential star player for his prime years comes along at most only a handful of times each year, typically with players coming out of Cuba or Japan. Abreu was heading into his age 27 season, younger than any normal free agent but still potentially catching some decline at the tail end of his contract. Since Tomas turns 24 in November, a seven-year deal would conclude with his age-30 season. He really couldn’t be much younger without being subject to each team’s international signing bonus pool money, which currently tops out around $5MM and includes a 100% tax on overages of 10% or more.
Tomas’ best attribute is his power, a trait that is in short supply in today’s game. Only 14 players hit 30 or more home runs in 2013, and fewer might reach that threshold this year. Tomas has 70 raw power on the 20-80 scale, wrote Baseball America’s Ben Badler in June, so he profiles as one of those rare 30+ home run bats. “He’s got a ton of power,” countryman Rusney Castillo told WEEI’s Rob Bradford through a translator this month. Tomas has produced a .290/.345/.504 throughout his career in Cuba, although those numbers include a pair of seasons in which he slugged just .385 (2009-10) when he was still a teenager.
Though Tomas checks in at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, he’s “agile for his size,” according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Sanchez also says Tomas has a strong arm, so he fits the typical right field profile (some teams may prefer him in left, of course).
One more plus: Tomas is not subject to a qualifying offer, so the cost will be entirely financial. Other free agent hitters like Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Victor Martinez, Melky Cabrera, and Nelson Cruz are expected to receive and turn down qualifying offers and therefore require forfeiture of a draft pick.
Badler wrote in his June scouting report that Tomas has below-average speed. More recently, Badler cited scouts who clocked Tomas at 6.9 seconds in the 60-yard dash at his Sunday showcase, which could be considered average speed.
Tomas may need some Triple-A seasoning, delaying his 2015 MLB impact. Badler noted that Tomas’ most recent season in Cuba wasn’t his best, writing, “This past season in Cuba…Tomas seemed to regress, even losing playing time in the second half, which one source said was the result of an arm injury he sustained crashing into an outfield wall in February.” Word is that Tomas has no physical issues currently.
Badler also noted that Tomas has shown some “swing-and-miss tendencies” and can struggle with quality breaking stuff. According to Sanchez, Tomas is “characterized as ‘high-risk, high-reward’ type of player in some international scouting circles.” He seems to come with a lesser reputation and less certainty than Abreu did last year. Not much has been written about Tomas’ defense, except that Sanchez feels the player has room for improvement.
Sanchez spent time with Tomas prior to his showcase this month, and was struck by his “youthful enthusiasm.” According to longtime friend Carlos Damas, Tomas is “always laughing.” I’ve heard Tomas likes to play video games in his spare time, and is often seen outside playing stickball with local kids.
The son of a fuel truck driver, Tomas is one of six children. As you might expect, the slugger found it very difficult to leave his home country.
Tomas’ showcase in the Dominican Republic drew hundreds of scouts, wrote Badler. It is believed that nearly every team in baseball had a presence. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons pegged the Giants as the early favorite, also naming the Phillies, Padres, Rangers, and Tigers as potential front-runners. The Phillies had a private showcase with Tomas on Monday; the Rangers host him today. On Monday, Badler named the Rangers, Phillies, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Giants, and Mets as teams with a strong presence at Tomas’ showcase. The Marlins and Pirates were also known to be in attendance.
Tomas’ agent Jay Alou told Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald in early September that he expects to top the record contract for a Cuban player, which is Rusney Castillo’s seven-year, $72.5MM deal with the Red Sox signed in August. While a six-year deal is possible for Tomas, seven makes more sense, especially if Tomas is not expecting to spend all of 2015 in the Majors. Seven years also gives the opportunity of increasing the overall contract total.
I believe Abreu’s stellar season inflated the Cuban market, leading to a likely inferior player in Castillo to top his total guarantee less than one year later. Nothing pays in free agency like power, so I agree with Alou’s expectation of continuing to raise the bar beyond Castillo’s $72.5MM. On September 14th, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe passed along the opinion of one international scout who feels Tomas could command $100MM. Tomas’ range seems wide right now. I see about $80MM as the floor, and $110MM as the ceiling. My prediction at present: $105MM over seven years.
Photo courtesy of Alyson Boyer Rode.
Phil Hughes‘ excellent season with the Twins has been a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season for Minnesota, and his final start on Wednesday had plenty of significance. Hughes whiffed five hitters and walked none, giving him an 11.63-to-1 K/BB ratio on the season — a new Major League record. However, it rained in Minneapolis for a little over an hour after the eighth inning, causing Hughes’ start to end even though he had thrown just 96 pitches. That caused Hughes to fall an unthinkable one out shy of a $500K bonus — an incentive he would have triggered upon reaching 210 innings. As Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweeted after the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said Hughes will not pitch in relief this weekend in order to reach the $500K bonus – meaning that poor weather (Hughes also had a Sept. 13 start rained out) will likely cost him half a million dollars. Hughes told Bollinger that he was very aware of what he needed to do Wednesday in order to secure his final contractual incentive but took the terrible luck in stride, saying, “Some things aren’t meant to be.” Hughes did earn $250K worth of bonuses for reaching both 180 and 195 innings, bringing his 2014 salary to $8.5MM.
More from the AL Central…
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that the Tigers had scouts on hand to see Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic this past Sunday, but he wouldn’t tip his hand as to whether or not his club was scheduling a private workout with the slugger. The Rangers and Phillies have both had private workouts with Tomas, who was the subject of MLBTR’s first Free Agent Profile of the upcoming offseason. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pegged Tomas for seven years and $105MM — a contract that would be a record-setter in terms of total guarantee and average annual value for a Cuban player.
- While the White Sox figure to add to their bullpen this offseason, Jake Petricka has carved out a role as future member of the group, writes Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. The 26-year-old Petricka has seen time in the closer’s role this season, converting 14 of 18 save opportunities and pitching to a 2.88 ERA in 72 innings. While he doesn’t have an elite strikeout rate (6.9 K/9), his 63.9 percent ground-ball rate ranks fifth among qualified relievers. Fellow right-hander Zach Putnam — he of a 1.98 ERA in 54 2/3 innings — also figures to be a bullpen cog for the South Siders going forward, Kane notes.
- Though he was only drafted three and a half months ago, Brandon Finnegan has emerged as a bullpen weapon for the Royals, and assistant GM J.J. Picollo tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that the team won’t rule out Finnegan breaking camp with the team in 2015. The team’s ultimate vision is to use Finnegan as a starter, so it’s more likely that he begins next year at Double-A or Triple-A, McCullough notes. Still, the team plans to replace James Shields internally, writes McCullough, and Picollo refused to put any hard limitations on Finnegan’s trajectory: “I don’t think it’s out of the question that he would start (the season) in the major leagues. … I’m not saying it’s what we’re going to do. But he’ll be given an opportunity to win a job on the team.”
Yasmany Tomas continues to await the day when Major League Baseball declares him a free agent, but teams have already gotten a first-hand look at him via a showcase in the Dominican Republic this past weekend. Since that time, he’s already been connected to the Pirates (in more of a due diligence fashion) and held a private workout with the Phillies.
Here’s more on the soon-to-be 24-year-old Cuban masher…
- Tomas was clocked with a 6.9-second 60-yard dash, Badler tweets. That is a surprisingly solid mark given his burly frame, Badler suggests.
- The Rangers will have a private workout for Tomas on Wednesday, a source tells Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Rangers and Phillies both had strong contingents at Tomas’ showcase, Badler continues, while the Mets, Giants, Yankees, D’Backs and Padres were well-represented also. Among the Padres executives in attendance was new general manager A.J. Preller, according to Badler.
- The Phillies were impressed with Tomas after his workout for the team, reports MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Philadelphia also held a private workout for Rusney Castillo prior to his signing with the Red Sox, but a source tells Zolecki that the team was just “lukewarm” on Castillo following that effort, and the club has “always” preferred Tomas to Castillo.
- The Marlins had a pair of executives in attendance for the showcase, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Director of international operations Albert Gonzalez and vice president of player personnel Craig Weissman both flew to the Dominican Republic to get a first-hand look at Tomas.
The Pirates had scouts in attendance at Yasmany Tomas‘ weekend showcase, writes MLB.com’s Tom Singer, but GM Neal Huntington didn’t sound overly optimistic about the team’s chances. “We like the player,” Huntington told Singer. “We will participate in the process. As it has with most Cuban players, the market may take it above a place where we feel comfortable.”
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes that while Pirates owner Bob Nutting is the one who ultimately determines payroll, Huntington is the one who distributes the funds. And while Huntington doesn’t like the idea of allocating more than 18 percent of a team’s payroll to one player, Sawchik opines that Russell Martin is the rare case in which an exemption should be made. He notes that it’s unlikely for teams to go beyond four years for Martin, and they’re also unlikely to go as high as Brian McCann‘s $17MM average annual value. The Pirates can get by offering Martin something close to $60MM over four years, Sawchik writes, and given the lack of alternative options, he feels they’d be wise to do so.
- It’s best for both the Cubs and Edwin Jackson if Chicago can orchestrate a change of scenery for the beleaguered right-hander next season, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Jackson, owed $22MM from 2015-16, has been a good citizen through his significant struggles in Chicago and remains positive, but both sides need to move on from a bad situation, Rogers continues. The Cubs’s best chance at moving Jackson is likely to swap him for another bad contract or to pay a large portion of his remaining salary, though as Rogers notes, it may be best to move on “no matter how they get rid of him.”
- While many Reds fans are convinced that the team needs to add a power bat to play left field, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that the team should instead prioritize on-base percentage in a left field upgrade. Cincinnati’s team OBP dropped from .327 in 2013 to .298 in 2014. Shin-Soo Choo, who reached base 300 times last year, was replaced by Billy Hamilton, who is on pace to reach 184 times. Joey Votto, who reached 316 times in 2013, spent most of this season on the DL, and the team’s No. 3 hitters have combined to reach just 206 times as a result. Pointing to the team’s struggles in one-run games (22-38), Fay notes how important a healthy Votto and an OBP-focused left fielder could be to the team.
“If you had to ask me now, I would assume that I would have to move on, unfortunately,” Adam LaRoche told CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman about his future with the Nationals. Though LaRoche is having a strong season and is well-respected within the Nats’ clubhouse, the team may need to create a spot at first base for Ryan Zimmerman next season since Zimmerman is no longer able to play third. If the Nationals do decline their side of LaRoche’s $15MM mutual option for 2015, expect the veteran to draw interest from several teams on the free agent market. LaRoche will turn 35 in November but he’s still playing well enough to help any team in need of left-handed pop.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- The Phillies haven’t had much success in trying to trade Jonathan Papelbon over the last year and releasing him would be a waste of an asset, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury writes in an analysis of the team’s options with the controversial closer. Papelbon’s no-trade clause and 2016 vesting option make it complicated to either deal him or demote him from the closer’s job, so Salisbury notes that the team could just bring him back next season and hope to swing a trade next summer.
- Also from Salisbury’s piece, he notes that the Phillies were willing to eat $13MM (of half) of Papelbon’s remaining salary in negotiations last offseason. The Phillies shopped Papelbon to the Tigers but Detroit wasn’t interested due to concerns that Papelbon wouldn’t be a fit in the team’s clubhouse.
- The Phillies will conduct a private workout with Yasmany Tomas today in the Dominican Republic, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, and GM Ruben Amaro will be in attendance. The Cuban outfielder’s open showcase on the weekend attracted scouts from several teams, and Tomas is expected to have private sessions with multiple teams in the near future.
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had had his leadership questioned by some members of the organization during the team’s September collapse, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Along those same lines, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC subscription required) thinks the Braves’ woeful performance over the last week has the appearance of a team that has quit on its manager. The Braves seem on the verge of making a GM change, and while Gonzalez’s job may not be in as much jeopardy, obviously he’d be on the hot seat unless the club improves in 2015.
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes (Twitter link) that the contract extensions signed by Gonzalez and GM Frank Wren last February ran through the end of the 2016 season. Gonzalez and Wren’s previous contracts were both set to expire at the end of the current season.
It’s an exceptionally quiet night on the transaction front, so let’s turn our attention to a poll. Tomorrow is Yasmani Tomas day with the Cuban slugger scheduled to workout at the Giants Dominican complex in front of about two dozen clubs. Even though tomorrow is a landmark date in Tomas’ move toward the majors, it is really just the beginning of the process. Like with fellow countryman Rusney Castillo, I assume Tomas will conduct private workouts with the most interested teams in the next few weeks. It’s also worth noting that Tomas has not yet been declared a free agent by major league baseball.
We heard last Sunday that Tomas could command as much as $100MM in a bidding war. While we can assume that every team with some modicum of interest will be represented at the showcase, we’ve seen eight teams directly tied to Tomas. The Yankees and Phillies are popular speculative destinations. Hall of Fame journalist and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons mentioned five clubs as front runners, including the Phillies, Rangers, Tigers, Padres, and Giants. The Red Sox and Mets have also been tied to Tomas here at MLBTR.
So my question is this: who do you think will sign Tomas? I’ve removed a few teams from the poll below based on payroll or other constraints (i.e. the Rays). If the team you think will sign him is not represented, you should vote for “other.”
Phil Hughes of the Twins has capped off one of the game’s best turnarounds by topping 200 innings on the year after today’s outing. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes on Twitter, Hughes picked up a $250K bonus after passing the 195 IP threshold. Needless to say, Minnesota is thrilled that it not only landed Hughes, who just turned 28, but that it did so on a three-year deal that promises him just $24MM in total. As Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register observes (Twitter link), Hughes has struck out 181 batters while issuing a mere 16 walks this year, meaning that he owns an absurd 11.3 K/BB ratio. That is a historically significant mark, and one that would surely have made the righty one of the offseason’s most interesting free agents had he elected to take a one-year pillow contract last year.
- You can count the Yankees among the teams taking a hard look at Yasmani Tomas, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Of course, they will be far from the only team doing so. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez provides an interesting look at the much-hyped young slugger, who is preparing for an important showcase on Sunday. “It was really difficult to leave Cuba,” said Tomas (translation from Spanish via Sanchez). “It is for all of us who do it. But it’s difficult there with the way the security is and how they control the players. I made an important decision to fulfill my dream and see if I was at the level of major league players. Here I am, and now I go forward.”
- Rangers hurler Colby Lewis says that he was told “maybe” when he asked club GM Jon Daniels about the possibility of a return next year, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star -Telegram reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old righty has only a 5.12 ERA over 158 1/3 innings this year, but then again he had been out since July of 2012 with various injury issues. Lewis owns a 4.33 FIP and has notched 7.0 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 on the season, making him a potentially appealing option for teams looking for a solid innings-eater.
- Twins closer Glen Perkins will be shut down for the rest of the year but ultimately received good news on his left arm, GM Terry Ryan told reporters including Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Perkins will use a strength and conditioning program to deal with a forearm strain and nerve irritation, and is expected to be at full strength for the spring.
- The Orioles are nearing finalization of a deal with Cuban hurler Lazaro Leyva, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Leyva has reportedly agreed to terms on a $725K deal to join the Baltimore organization.
Despite their outfield logjam, the Red Sox will be in attendance for Yasmani Tomas‘ showcase in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford spoke with Boston’s newest outfielder, Rusney Castillo, about his countryman and received strong reviews. “He’s a really high quality baseball player, and a really good person,” said Castillo through an interpreter. “He’s got a ton of power. For his physique, he actually moves pretty well. He’s pretty quick for a big guy.” Castillo agrees with scouting reports that say Tomas isn’t the same athlete that Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes is, but likened his power to that of Jose Abreu.
More from Bradford and some additional pieces on the Red Sox…
- Red Sox owner John Henry told Bradford, via email, that the team’s near-miss on Abreu fueled the club’s aggressiveness on Castillo. Boston bid just $5MM less than the White Sox did to secure Abreu, prompting Henry to admit: “Yes, the financial aspects were impacted by coming close on Abreu. The White Sox did their homework.”
- GM Ben Cherington appeared on the Dennis & Callahan radio show to discuss a number of Red Sox topics, and WEEI’s Jerry Spar has some highlights. Cherington said that while the team doesn’t consider Castillo to be have one elite tool, they feel he’s very good in a lot of categories and should be a quality Major League outfielder. Cherington stopped short, however, of proclaiming Castillo the team’s center fielder in 2015. (The Arizona Fall League announced today that Castillo will play there this offseason, which should give Boston more time to make that evaluation.) He also addressed the Mookie Betts situation, noting that the team most likely projects Betts as an outfielder moving forward and has not discussed playing him at third base.
- “I think it’s safe to say we would still have interest in keeping him here,” Cherington said in that same appearance when asked about Koji Uehara. Cherington praised Uehara’s accountability during his recent rough patch, and that accountability is an appealing factor when pursuing a new contract. Boston has yet to make an offer or discuss a new contract with Uehara at this time, per Cherington.
- As John Tomase of the Boston Herald points out, the Red Sox, by some metrics, have had the worst production in the league at third base. As such, they’ll be on the hunt for third basemen with power this offseason, preferably ones that hit left-handed or are switch-hitters in order to balance out a right-leaning lineup. Tomase expects Pedro Alvarez to be on the team’s list, as the club tried desperately to sign him as a 14th-round pick out of high school back in 2005. Boston was willing to offer Alvarez $850K and showed a late willingness to push the number closer to Alvarez’s $1MM asking price, but he instead attended Vanderbilt. The decision paid off, as Alvarez was drafted No. 2 overall and received a $6MM signing bonus from the Pirates three years later. Tomase speculates that a swap of underachieving third basemen — Alvarez and Will Middlebrooks — might make sense for both clubs (presumably, other pieces would be required in such a deal).
- The right-leaning nature of Boston’s lineup is the focus of the latest from Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe, who notes that the Sox currently project to have just one regular lefty bat in the lineup next season — David Ortiz. While others such as Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley and the switch-hitting Daniel Nava could be worked into the mix, the team cannot afford to have such a glaring deficiency, as other clubs will exploit it, writes Massarotti.
The Mets will send three scouts to get a first-hand look at Yasmani Tomas for his showcase on Sunday, reports Newsday’s Marc Carig. However, as has been documented recently, the team’s payroll isn’t likely to rise significantly next season, which could make Tomas a stretch, financially speaking. The 23-year-old could top Rusney Castillo‘s $72.5MM guarantee, and a $100MM commitment is certainly possible. Mets VP of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta tells Carig that despite the team’s lack of activity, they’ve been keeping close tabs on the Cuban market: “We have been very diligent about all of the free agents who have come available, there just hasn’t been a fit yet.”
Elsewhere in Mets-related news…
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the lack of a payroll increase doesn’t necessarily doom the Mets in 2015, as the team’s surplus of young pitching gives them an inexpensive rotation and the ability to trade for a cost-controlled shortstop if it is eventually deemed necessary. However, he feels that it’s becoming clear that the Mets intend to try to fill the shortstop hole from within, giving Wilmer Flores an opportunity to prove himself. Left field may be the more problematic area of need for New York, and while GM Sandy Alderson would like to fill that void via trade, Madden says, the dearth of power hitters in the game might make it difficult to swing. He suggests Michael Cuddyer as a viable free agent option, which makes some degree of sense for the Mets in my opinion. While Madden doesn’t state it, Cuddyer could start at first base versus left-handed pitching to shield Lucas Duda and jump to the outfield against righties. Madden also rightly notes that payroll doesn’t guarantee success, and a look at this year’s contenders and non-factors proves that.
- Triple-A manager Wally Backman is joining the coaching staff for the final nine games of September, and a team insider tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the possibility of adding Backman to the 2015 coaching staff is “under consideration.” Many fans prefer Backman to manager Terry Collins, Rubin notes, but Collins says he views Backman as an ally rather than a threat: “We have a very strong relationship. Wally and I are very good friends. We always have been — for a lot of years. … He brings a lot to the table.”
- Madden’s colleague, Andy Martino, writes that the Mets shouldn’t have to subtract payroll by trading someone like Bartolo Colon or Daniel Murphy in order to add a free agent such as Cuddyer or another bat. The baseball ops department should be granted what it needs to work with, as Alderson “does not exactly ask for the moon.” He also notes that Alderson and Backman have a good deal of philosophical differences, so if Backman is on next year’s staff, it’ll mean the GM didn’t want to choose that battle or he feels he can keep a better eye on him with the big league club.