Well, they couldn’t get it done. They were right there until the end but missed out once again. Same story, different day. The San Diego Padres and General Manager A.J. Preller had long been linked to Cuban sensation Yasmany Tomas and on Wednesday the chase came to an end… Just not the way they would’ve hoped.
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The Padres’ aggressive pursuit of the corner outfield slugger fell short when Tomas inked a 6-year, $68.5 million dollar contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. For Preller and the Friars, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Preller is still looking to make a splash in his first year as San Diego General Manager but will he end up regretting not pushing the envelope to sign baseball’s newest Cuban star?
So far, the latest crop of Cuban imports has been can’t miss. Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes have all become stars since leaving their native country and signing with a big league club. The recent track record has been so flawless that many people are wondering who will be the first defector to fall short of expectations. I’m sure Preller and the rest of the Padres’ front office brass wouldn’t feel too bad if the 24-year-old Tomas ended up being the first player to do so.
But if Tomas ends up living up to his billing as a world class super slugger and becomes a star, it could leave a nasty mark on Preller’s early career as a General Manager. Tomas is young and obviously possesses offensive talent but he is not without his faults. Many observers have cited his weight as a possible cause for concern and a move from the the corner outfield to first base or designated hitter (He’d have to go to the American League in the future for this, obviously) may be imminent. He is described as having an above average arm but not a lot of speed which makes him a better fit for right field rather than left. The Padres desperately need a right fielder and Tomas, albeit on paper at the moment, would have more than filled that hole.
At one point it was predicted that Tomas would garner a contract of about $100 million dollars. That would’ve made him the highest paid player ever to come out of Cuba. But, that didn’t happen and it’d be interesting to know why that is. Were the worries about his weight too great? Were there problems with his swing? If Tomas was as good as advertised, why did a bidding war not ensue and drive the price up? If it wasn’t a barrage of questions that kept the price down, was a 6-year, $68 million dollar contract too much for the Padres to top?
When the 2015 season begins, there will be a lot of eyes on the Diamondbacks and Tomas. The hitter friendly Chase Field will certainly be a bonus for the young up and comer and his rookie season will be one of the main story lines of the coming year. Over the next six years, people will be talking about Tomas. Whether that talk will be positive or negative remains to be seen but one thing is for certain… The Padres and their fans will always be left wondering “What could have been”.