Mets Should Sign Cuban Defector Yasmani Tomas

Cuba v Netherlands - World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1

As you may or may not know by now, Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas defected from Cuba recently.

Tomas, 23, is a 6’1 230-pound outfielder with monster power potential. Before his defection he’d been playing professional baseball in Cuba for Industriales. In 97 games last season for Industriales he hit .275 with 10 homeruns and 59 RBI. This season Tomas hit .290 with six homeruns in 257 plate appearances while dealing with an arm injury.

Perhaps his most impressive showing was at 2013’s World Baseball Classic, where he went 6 for 16 (.412) with two homers. After the tournament Baseball America named him the sixth best prospect in the tournament.

On the scouting side, Baseball America‘s Ben Badler says that Tomas possesses “70 raw power”, while ESPN‘s Keith Law went a little deeper:

What Tomas brings is plus power, and I don’t think it’s just BP power, as he’s very short to the ball — maybe even more so than  Jose Abreu — with good hip rotation and a very quiet approach. He keeps his head steady through contact and his back leg pretty strong. However, he has below-average bat speed, unlike Abreu (whose is average or better) or Puig (whose is just ridiculous), and I’ve had multiple scouts tell me they question Tomas’ ability to hit for average against major-league pitching.

Both Law and Badler seem to think that although he moves fairly well for a guy his size, he’ll be relegated to a corner outfield spot but should be at least average out there.

Law went on to add some projections on Tomas, as well as what kind of financial commitment it may take to sign him.

A reasonable/optimistic projection for Tomas would be an average to slightly above-average regular in left field, with 25 to 30 homers, a low OBP and below-average defense.

Tomas might get paid like Jose Abreu or Yasiel Puig, but he’s not in their class as a prospect, and if paid similarly, he would be benefiting from how successful Abreu and Puig have been.

As for the process of getting the young Cuban to the United States, Badler touched on that:

Tomas will still have to obtain residency in another country, get an unblocking license from the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball to be eligible to enter into an agreement with a club. The timetable for jumping through those hurdles varies, though it seems unlikely Tomas would sign before the end of the season and it might take him until 2015 to ultimately sign.

My Thoughts:

I think the Mets should be all-in on this young outfielder. Although he may not have the pedigree of Jose Abreu or Yasiel Puig despite carrying a similar price tag, I think it’s more than worth the risk. The days of young power-hitters reaching the free agent market are over. Teams are locking up these types of players early on. With power at a premium in MLB right now, you can afford to miss on a guy like Tomas who may never hit for average, but will provide plus pop. Just look at the spark guys like Abreu, Puig and even Yoenis Cespedes have provided for their teams. We could really use a player like that, and when you factor in that he’s young, plays a position of absolute need for us, and gives us the power we desperately need, it seems like a no-brainer. The Mets outfield ranks 22nd in MLB in HR, 23rd in SLG and 19th in ISO (Isolated Power) heading into Monday’s games.

However we all know the likely outcome– the Mets will pass on him and he’ll win Rookie of the Year for someone else.

(Photo credits: Alyson Boyer Rode and Chung Sung-Jun.)


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