The Diamondbacks signing of Cuban OF Yasmany Tomas is certainly going to have an effect on the Diamondbacks plans for 2015, and their plans for the rest of the offseason.
The team shocked the baseball world when they signed one of the most coveted free agent bats on the market to a team friendly deal. Here are some of my thoughts on how Tomas will fit in, and what this means for the Dbacks.
What Kind of Player Will Tomas Be?
The Diamondbacks have gotten nothing but good reviews for this deal. It is clear that Tomas is worth every penny of the $68.5 million that he is guaranteed. That being said, their is a consensus from rival executives and scouts that he is not going to be the next Jose Abreu. At this point, most believe that he is a league average 24 year old that still has his best years ahead of him.
Many expected Tomas to get close to $100 million on the open market. However, it is worth noting that Tomas’s numbers in Cuba were worse than Abreu. In his five seasons in Cuba, Tomas finished with a slash line of .290/.345/.504. Most scouts believe that he is an average defender that profiles as a corner outfielder.
Most scouts label him as having 65-70 raw power, which translates to 25-30 home runs in a given major league season. He didn’t strike out at a high rate in Cuba, but most scouts believe that his high batting average and low K rate wont translate to the majors.
Tomas has a significant uppercut in his swing, and he is often way to pull happy. He is consistently overwhelmed by quality breaking pitches, and if he cant make the adjustment, he is going to recieve a heavy dose of them from more advanced major league starters. He has questionable plate discipline, which suggests he will hit in the .250-.260 range in the majors. Despite his quick bat speed, I think he will have issues catching up to premium velocity.
Ultimately, I think Tomas will be more like Yoenis Cespedes or Dyan Vicideo. He has upside, and he has the chance to be a superstar, but from what I have seen, I dont think he has a chance to be as good as Abreu. He will hit 25-30 HR’s a season, play average defense, and have an impact in the middle of the Snakes lineup. He probably wont hit for average, and he wont have much of an impact on the basepaths.
The Diamondbacks Payroll + Free Agent Market
Remember when Dbacks President Derrick Hall said that the team’s payroll would likely scale back from $112 million to $100 million next season? Well that might be changing. The Diamondbacks just signed Tomas to the largest contract in team history, and its clear this team wants to win next year, without completely mismanaging the farm system.
The Tomas signing doesn’t address the team’s most glaring hole which is the starting rotation. The Diamondbacks have been rumored to be in the mix for James Shields, and given the Tomas signing, maybe I was wrong when I assumed that the Dbacks wouldn’t be in on the big name free agents.
The Diamondbacks could also look to trade C Miguel Montero, SS Didi Gregorius, or one of their OF that is owed alot of money namely Mark Trumbo, or Cody Ross. Its clear that the Dbacks are going to be active at the Winter Meetings.
Where Will Tomas Play?
Unless he shows the Diamondbacks some positional flexibility, this signing makes things a lot tougher on Manager Chip Hale, and the Dbacks front office. The outfield is already crowded as is. David Peralta and Ender Inciarte emerged last year, and deserve significant playing time. A.J. Pollock will be starting in CF, and Trumbo and Ross are already well paid to occupy the corner outfield spots.
Before the Diamondbacks acquired Tomas, I thought the Dbacks could use a platoon, and keep all five outfielders. It would feature Trumbo and Inciarte in left, Pollock in center with Inciarte as a backup if needed, and Peralta and Ross in right.
Diamondbacks general manager has said in the past that Trumbo will play right-field next season. Tomas’s speed and defensive skills makes him a perfect fit for LF. Trumbo’s platoon splits indicate that he should sit against most right-handed starters. Meanwhile Ross should get an occasional start against a lefty given his reputation as a lefty-killer. Over his career, Ross has a .934 OPS against southpaws.
I think Ross would appear to be the odd man out, but if the Diamondbacks get an offer that includes a starting pitcher, maybe General Manager Dave Stewart would consider dealing Trumbo.
Honestly I have no idea what the Diamondbacks are going to do. The acquisition of Tomas means that five OF’s are going to compete for two spots. This probably means that the Diamondbacks will use their depth in the OF and in the middle infield to make trades for starting pitching.
Another option for Tomas is to play third. However, this would block Jake Lamb from playing everyday. This would also mean that Brandon Drury would switch to second in the minors, with the idea that both could switch positions in the future. Here is the problem with playing Tomas at third: most think his defense is just average in the corner outfield. Third base isn’t called the “hot corner” for nothing. I dont know if playing Tomas at third would be the best idea.
In the end, where Tomas will play will be dictated by what the Diamondbacks do the rest of the offseason to clear up their outfield problem. The next few weeks will be critical for the Dbacks! Stay tuned!