Source: D-backs agree to terms with Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas
PHOENIX — General manager Dave Stewart said the Diamondbacks’ were high on Cuban power bat Yasmany Tomas during this month’s general managers meetings, and now we know how high.
The D-backs and Tomas agreed Wednesday on a six-year contact, reportedly for $68.5 million, according to sources with knowledge of the agreement. Stewart recently scouted Tomas in the Dominican Republic and was impressed with what he saw. The only thing standing in the way of the deal is a physical exam.
The addition of Tomas adds another production bat to an offense that includes Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero and Mark Trumbo, although the signing of Tomas and the additional payroll expense could signal an interest in trading Trumbo or Montero in a package to upgrade the starting rotation.
Tomas is considered similar to Jose Abreu and Rusney Castillo, former Cuban players who came to the majors last season, at the plate. Abreu was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2014, when he slashed .317/.383/.581 with 35 doubles and 36 home runs for the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox play in a hitter’s park, as do the D-backs.
"He’s a guy who could have some pretty big impact on our team and in our lineup," Stewart said at the general managers meetings.
Given the production of Cuban players who have signed recently, the D-backs seem to believe Tomas is a risk worth taking. Abreu and outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, who like Tomas played in the Cuban national league, have made major contributions the last few years.
Tomas’ deal is almost exactly the same as the six-year, $68 million deal Abreu signed with the White Sox a year ago. Castillo signed a seven-year, $70.5 million deal last summer.
The signing was a coup for Stewart, inasmuch as Tomas was being pursued by Atlanta, San Diego and late-comer San Francisco. The Giants joined the market for a hitter after Pablo Sandoval signed a free-agent deal with Boston.
Tomas, who defected from Cuba in June and was declared a free agent in October, worked out for teams in the outfield and at third base from his training base in the Dominican, but the D-backs are believed to view him as an outfielder first. Rookie Jake Lamb had an extended trial at third base in the final seven weeks of 2014, and veteran Aaron Hill also was used there some.
The D-backs have said their payroll could be in the $100 million range in 2015, and they already have $68 million committed, including $12 million each to Montero, Hill and Trevor Cahill. That figure does not include contracts to arbitration eligible players Trumbo, Hellickson, Wade Miley, Cliff Pennington, Addison Reed and David Hernandez that could be worth another $25 million, give or take.
Tomas’ deal would take the payroll further north of $100 million if no other moves are made, but the D-backs spent about $112 million last season and seem comfortable in that range.
The move was the second this winter as the D-backs look to bounce back from an injury-induced 64-98 record in 2014. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was acquired from Tampa Bay for two minor league prospects two weeks ago.
Hellickson is expected to slot into the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the rotation, but there is always room for more pitching as the D-backs await the return of Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo from 2014 Tommy John surgeries. Corbin is expected back in May or June, and Arroyo a month or two later.