It was reported today by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that highly-coveted Cuban free agent, Yasmany Thomas, has agreed to a six-year, $68.5MM deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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Tomas, who turned 24 earlier this month, was linked to several teams including the San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Minnesota Twins before ultimately agreeing to terms with Arizona.
The Padres were considered one of the front runners for Tomas after becoming the first team to have private work outs with on two separate occasions, and on a November 6th conference call with Padres season ticket holders, Preller himself confirmed the Padres’ interest in bringing the free agent slugger to San Diego, “We’ve had the chance to see Yasmany Tomas and we’re in the process of determining his value for the Padres. We’re in the game.”
The rumors died down just one week later when it was reported that a “dark-horse” candidate had emerged and the Padres were no longer considered a destination for the Cuban slugger. The signing would have marked the largest contract in franchise history for the San Diego Padres and would have been a legacy defining moment for Padres’ first year general manager, A.J. Preller. It could also be argued that allowing Yasmany Tomas to sign within the division for under $12MM a year is a legacy defining moment for A.J. Preller.
Preller had previously established a reputation for having an eye for international talent as the director of international and professional scouting for the Texas Ranger, and had a significant role in acquisitions and signings of Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus, Alexi Ogando, Leonys Martin, Neftali Feliz, Rougned Odor, Martin Perez, and Juickson Profar. Preller further cemented his reputation as an international proponent when it was announced last week that the Padres had produced the highest bid for the negotiating rights for South Korean lefty standout, Kwang-Hyun Kim. Preller and the Padres have until December 11th to hash out a deal with Kim.
Padres fans are certainly no stranger to disappointment when it comes to not signing a coveted free agent, but this one stings a little bit. As unlikely as it seemed, the Padres appeared to be making good on Ron Fowler’s October 9th promise that they had “definitely expanded our international focus under AJ”, and were pursuing Tomas with a “win-now” mentality.
What could have been a historic signing turned out to be business as usual in San Diego.
Hopefully A.J. Preller knows something we don’t.