We hope you had a great Thanksgiving! It would be weird if you didn’t — anyone who follows the Diamondbacks got a chance to bask in the afterglow of the Yasmany Tomas news from the day before. We gorged ourselves on the Tomas signing in Episode 7 of The Pool Shot, and at this point, we still don’t know the year-by-year financials. The news on Wednesday did say that the signing was pending a physical, and perhaps that couldn’t be arranged until today. We’ll know more soon. But briefly: both I and Jeff think that the deal is a good one.
Just how good will depend on the year-by-year numbers. We talked about the possibilities on The Pool Shot, but as that was a little scattered, here’s what I’m thinking. The default is that it’s flat; and if it’s flat, there’s still a very good chance the opt out is exercised. The good news: 4/$45.67M is a very good deal for an average player, especially as you’re buying the potential that he’ll get better over the life of the deal.
Backloaded (maybe 10/10/10/10/14/14.5): Great for the D-backs. Lumping the money toward the end lowers the actual value of the deal (a dollar today being worth more than a dollar tomorrow). A wider area of the possible outcomes spectrum for Tomas would have him opting in, but as long as he is vaguely productive, that’s unlikely; even if he only believes he can get $12M/season, he’d still likely opt out (or negotiate something new with the D-backs) in order to get the longer term. And considering that a win might cost $8M or so four years from now, there’s a good chance he’ll think he’s worth at least $12M.
Frontloaded (maybe $8.5M signing bonus, 10/10/10/10/10/10): The problem here becomes that the D-backs can’t win but they can lose. If he’s worthless as a player and he needs (or at least deserves) to be released, he costs $68.5M — as with every scenario. But so long as he views himself as a starting player, Tomas will think he is worth at least $8M a season, and probably more; he will exercise the opt-out. There’s really only two outcomes if the deal is frontloaded: holding the bag, as with every scenario, or Tomas exercising the opt out. If he does, the D-backs get Tomas at 4 years, and maybe something like $48.5M. Still a great deal, just not as great as if it were backloaded.
Can’t wait to see what the details actually are… and this is a good time to suggest following me (@InsidetheZona) and Jeff (@OutfieldGrass24) on Twitter!
- On Thanksgiving, Nick Piecoro published a second piece on Tomas, and it’s both interesting and gratifying. Piecoro polled some executives, finding that all seemed to think the D-backs got a good deal. At the same time, Piecoro rightly pumps the breaks a bit, noting that in Cuba, “Tomas posted an .851 OPS in 908 career at-bats, putting him more in line with Dayan Viciedo (.820) than with the recent wave of Cuban superstars [all of whom were in the 900s or higher].” We should definitely keep in mind that however Tomas fares in 2015, we need not assume that he can’t do better. But we should also remember that there’s a non-zero chance of the Viciedo outcome (not good).
- At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron addressed the signing on the day it was reported. Some themes destined to be repeated: the best outcome for Tomas would look a lot like Justin Upton, and the worst might be Dayan Viciedo. Cameron also notes that Tomas could turn out to be “a player who might fit better in the AL,” but that even if that were to happen, that wouldn’t be so bad; since Billy Butler just got a similar average annual value, there’s a decent chance an AL team would scoop up the entire contract. And that’s one of the bad outcomes.
- On Saturday, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs followed up with a piece at Just a Bit Outside (Fox). As Jeff Wiser noted on The Pool Shot, the piece was an interesting “thought experiment”: Sullivan took a number of available scouting reports on Tomas, turned grades into approximate numbers, sorted all players from the last few years for comparables, and then kept splitting up the data set until he got some comps that seemed reasonable. In the pool were Justin Upton (again, the best-case scenario), Yoenis Cespedes, Corey Hart, Nelson Cruz, Khris Davis, and… Dayan Viciedo. Check it out for some other conclusions.
- If you liked Wiser’s treatment of the D-backs’ handle on “Effective Velocity” you’ll love this Hardball Times piece from the great Jon Roegele. Basically, Roegele found evidence that it is definitely helpful for a pitcher to throw consecutive pitches that both carry through the same “tunnel” for the first 20 feet to the plate, if they then cross the plate at different times. It’s part of why Ted Lilly‘s curveball always worked so well; he had a terrible fastball that used the same tunnel. Great work here, and this is information that we’re going to return to again and again over the next year, I believe.
- A little less than a month ago, it was reported that the Athletics weren’t listening to offers on Josh Donaldson. I took that to mean that they were soliciting offers, and Jeff and I traded back some ideas of Donaldson fits. Suffice it to say: we came up with a couple of packages that we thought the D-backs could afford to lose, but which seemed to be quite a bit better than the package the Athletics actually got from the Blue Jays. Just puzzling. Here’s Keith Law ($) on the return the Athletics received. I have been thinking that Didi Gregorius makes a lot of sense for the Athletics — now the D-backs and Athletics might be an even more promising match. More on that to come.
- Another match made possible after recent moves: the Red Sox, who not only added to their infield and outfield logjams, but who also designated Ryan Lavarnway for assignment. Tuffy Gosewisch was surprisingly good last season, and Lavarnway isn’t highly regarded for defense behind the plate. But could he fit? Given that the roster already has two options for third base, Lavarnway could be a better fit than Jordan Pacheco, who the club is supposedly hoping to bring back. Just a thought. With six carry-worthy outfielders, Goldy, and five major leaguers on the roster for the other three infield spots, I highly doubt the team could carry Lavarnway as a third “catcher,” and if there is no third catcher, Lavarnway would be used only sparingly as a pinch hitter. But it might be worth exploring.
- After Tomas was signed, David Schoenfield wrote at the mothership blog that the D-backs could now look to trade Mark Trumbo. That would be wonderful; I doubt they could get anything close to what they gave up to get him, but they could get a meaningful pitcher in return, and the lost playing time could be made up by Ender Inciarte and David Peralta without a real loss of production. I’m on board. Schoenfield identifies the Marlins, Mariners, Royals, Rays, and Rangers as possibilities. The Mariners are probably off the board as they’ve agreed to terms with Nelson Cruz, but even that signing (4 years, $57 million!) is some evidence that the market for the much younger Trumbo could be robust. The Rangers are an intriguing idea, although they don’t really have the pitching; and maybe the Royals could be made interested in a package that included Trevor Cahill (and some money) with Trumbo.
- Jerry Crasnick was the first to report last week that the D-backs’ interest in Tomas was “legit,” so pay attention when he talks about the signing.
- The minimum salary for major leaguers has risen from $500,000 to $507,500 for 2015, based on a provision in the CBA that ties a cost of living adjustment to the Consumer Price Index. Which is good, because I was worried about the guys who weren’t going to be able to scrape by on $507,500. Maybe we don’t need to call it a cost of living adjustment? Maybe an inflation adjustment?
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