The Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract with corner outfielder Yasmany Tomas, as first reported by Francys Romero (via Twitter). He’ll be invited to Major League Spring Training with the Nats in 2021. Tomas turned down a couple of offers in Japan with an eye on playing first base in the Majors, MLBTR has learned.
For the Nats, adding Tomas is likely a simple depth move early in the winter. First base might be the best path back to the Majors for Tomas, as he logged 346 innings at the position in Triple-A last year and the Nats don’t have much at the position with Eric Thames, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Howie Kendrick hitting free agency. The Nats also have a need in one corner outfield spot after declining their 2021 option on Adam Eaton and outrighting Michael A. Taylor off the 40-man roster, but Tomas isn’t likely to win a starting role there.
Washington will be the first big league organization outside of Arizona for the 30-year-old Tomas, who came to the Major Leagues amid considerable fanfare after defecting from Cuba in 2014. Tomas generated widescale interest and huge expectations that led to a hefty six-year, $68.5MM deal — a contract that even included an opt-out clause after the fourth season.
Of course, as anyone who followed Tomas’ career in Arizona knows, that opt-out provision never came into play. Tomas spent some time in Triple-A in 2015, his first season with the club, which was not wholly unexpected. He struggled at the plate in that rookie season but did improve with a 31-homer showing in 2016 — albeit one that came with sub-par on-base skills (.272/.313/.508) and poor outfield defense.
After that 2016 campaign, the D-backs cleaned house in the front office, parting ways with several key execs who contributed to signing Tomas — including then-GM Dave Stewart. Chief baseball officer Tony La Russa “stepped away” after the 2017 season. The new front office, led by current GM Mike Hazen, wasn’t as committed to giving Tomas a lengthy audition. He appeared in just 47 games in 2017, missing much of that year due to a groin injury, and would only ever suit up for four games with the D-backs again. Tomas was outrighted off the 40-man roster in 2018 and hit poorly in Triple-A that year. He rebounded in Reno in 2019 but only received a brief big league look for his efforts. Arizona did not include him in its 60-man player pool this past season.
On the whole, Tomas’ time with the D-backs resulted in a .266/.306/.459 slash (97 wRC+ and OPS+). His glove in the outfield checked in at -34 Defensive Runs Saved in just north of 2000 innings, illustrating the defensive struggles he exhibited in Arizona. That said, Tomas’ .193 ISO speaks to the impressive raw power he possesses, and he did tattoo left-handed opponents at a .293/.343/.537 clip during his time with the Diamondbacks (128 wRC+).