For the past month or so, we here at Friars On Base have covered the San Diego Padres’ pursuit of Cuban defector and outfielder Yasmany Tomas. We’ve discussed how he is going to cost a pretty penny for whomever signs him, and how he is the PERFECT fit for General Manager A.J. Preller to not only make a splash in his first winter, but how Tomas would be the impact bat the Padres have longer for since dealing Adrian Gonzalez all those years ago.
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According to MLB Insider and CBS Sports baseball writer Jon Heyman, the Padres are still in the hunt for Tomas’ services, but they aren’t considered the favorite to land the slugger. That distinction would now go to the Philadelphia Phillies, who according to Heyman “…caught a major break when aging pitcher A.J. Burnett declined his $12.75 million player option, sparing Philly’s already bloated payroll.”
The more teams see of Tomas, the more they are impressed, and are beginning to believe the hype. One American League scout was quoted as telling Heyman:
"He’s got power. I think he’ll be a middle-of-the-order type bat…He looked good…He’s slimming down, and he’s hitting the ball well."
Heyman mentions Tomas as an outfielder AND a third baseman, but how likely that is remains unknown. If Tomas can also play third base, he becomes an even more attractive option for the Padres, since they have a dire need for both a corner outfield power bat as well as a third baseman to replace Chase Headley long term. If the Padres choose to move Jedd Gyorko back to third and hand Cory Spangenberg the second base job, then Tomas still slates into the right fielder’s spot.
Will Preller and the Padres dig in and be prepared for a bidding war? The young GM has been given the freedom to spend to make the team better, but is he willing to hand over $100 million to an unknown at the big league level? If you were to listen to Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, baseball should be prepared for the next Rookie of the Year and perennial All-Star. Remember, it was Alou who at the time, was scoffed at when he predicted that Jose Bautista had 40+ home run power when his career high at the time had only been 16.
"“He’s special…He’s going to be Rookie of the Year and make the All-Star team. Yasmany Tomas has to be the most powerful guy I’ve ever seen. He absolutely devastates the ball to the opposite field.”"
While Alou sells a good product, scouts who have physically seen Tomas with their own two eyes, project big power numbers, but not the batting average the big Cuban has had in his native land. One scout believes he’ll make a solid corner outfielder. And per Alou, his client is in the market for a five to seven year deal, after already turning down an eight-year deal.
If the Padres want their impact bat, and Preller believes Tomas is the real deal, now is the time to jump. The longer teams wait, and the more impressive the workouts become, the dollars will only go up for Yasmany Tomas. The Padres and their fans have to trust A.J. Preller, and his cadre of qualified scouts and international talent team to determine whether Tomas is the real deal or if Jay Alou is just blowing smoke.