24-year-old outfielder Yasmani Tomas has been cleared to sign by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports on Twitter. Tomas, who is aiming to be the latest high-dollar Cuban ballplayer, still requires a grant of free agency from MLB before he can agree to a contract.
Ranking Tomas seventh among prospective free agents, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes wrote recently that the intriguing talent could draw wide and varied interest around the game. As Ben Badler of Baseball America explained in reporting his defection, Tomas projects as a power-hitting corner outfielder with below-average speed. Though he may not be quite ready to appear immediately in an MLB lineup, the consensus seems to be that he is at least very nearly big league-ready.
Ultimately, Tomas offers the promise of a unique combination of power and age for a market in which both are treasured commodities. Given his age and experience, Tomas will not be subject to international spending limits, meaning that he will be a true free agent when he receives his designation from the league.
Two of Tomas’s countrymen — Rusney Castillo and Jose Abreu — recently landed deals guaranteeing better than $10MM a year over seven and six years, respectively, though both players were considered slightly more polished while also being older. Earlier Cuban ballplayer signings included younger, high-upside outfielders like Yasiel Puig (seven years, $42MM) and Jorge Soler (nine years, $30MM).
Tomas, of course, is a different player, with an overall profile that shares some attributes with each of those rough comparables. If nothing else, though, the steady rise in spending on Cuban emigres — related, in some part, to the remarkable MLB success of the above-listed and other Cuban players — shows that clubs are not hesitating to plunk down big dollars for international talent.