It has been less than a year since the news broke that the Diamondbacks had secured Yasmany Tomas’ services. I was having a beer by myself in a bar downtown when the text came in. I confirmed the news, swallowed my beer and jumped on the train – rushing home so that I could write it up for Beyond the Box Score while Ryan covered the news here. At the time, we were collectively thrilled. This was a very large, very public win for Arizona. They’d won the bidding for the kind of player they so often lost out on: the high-profile free agent. It had previously been James Shields who turned the D-backs down. I’m not sure who it was before that and I’m not sure who it was before that, but you get the idea.  They were used to getting snubbed before Tomas chose to sign and we reveled in the possibilities.

Of course, one of the possibilities, the one we most-liked to ignore, was that Tomas simply wasn’t very good at baseball. That was a possibility. I also don’t think that’s the reality despite his struggles in the field and at the plate in his debut season. He did not light the world on fire last year and has significantly altered the perception around him. But how do you evaluate a guy with big time power who showed an approach that didn’t use it? How do you evaluate a player who took his Spring Training reps at a position that he was never meant to play, only to struggle at another position (one that he had limited experience with) for the remainder of the season? How do you evaluate a player who lost almost all of his playing time in the final two months of the season, but lost the bulk of it to a breakout-David Peralta? Trust me, I could go on.

I suppose I shouldn’t hide the reason we’re having this discussion in the first place. The D-backs need starting pitching and as much as we’d all like to just throw a couple of lesser prospects at that situation to fix it, that’s not going to be enough. Teams know what Arizona is after and they know that outfield depth is really the only surplus the team has at the major league level. That’s why the Braves asked for A.J. Pollock in return for Julio Teheran or Shelby Miller. The D-backs said “no” as they should have. They can’t subtract a major piece of the MLB puzzle fill another MLB need as even if the team were to acquire a starter like Teheran or Miller, they’d still be fringy to take a wild card spot.

Arizona will be good next year, but not so good that they can give away Pollock or Peralta to address the pitching situation unless they land a name that we haven’t mentioned before (like Chris Sale). Hell, I’m not even sure if they can afford to lose Ender Inciarte. Okay, maybe there’s a scenario in which they could lose any of these starters, but it has to be a pretty specific one. And the team would need a viable replacement for whomever they lost. That replacement would most likely be Tomas as Socrates Brito is still a little too raw at the moment (which could change as early as midseason).

But rather than pressing Tomas into action, the team could just trade him instead of one of the starters. The issue there is that we don’t really know what he’s worth thanks to the murkiness of his current value. So let’s put our thinking caps on here for a fun (okay, maybe not “fun” but definitely “tolerable”) thought exercise. Let’s build both cases for Yasmany Tomas’ trade value – one where his value is high and one where his value is very low.

Yasmany Tomas’ Trade Value Is High Because…

  • He will be just 25 for all of next season
  • He possesses plus-plus raw power from the right side
  • He has a strong throwing arm that allows him to play either corner outfield spot
  • He produced three solid months at the plate in his debut at 24
  • He is under control for at least three more seasons, making just $20 million over those three years

Yasmany Tomas’ Trade Value is Very Low Because…

  • He swings at everything, he doesn’t walk and strikes out plenty
  • He doesn’t have a defensive home
  • His frame is troublesome and his conditioning will always be a concern
  • His production tapered off sharply in the second half
  • He could chose to stick around for five more seasons, making $52.5 million over those five years
  • He could be excellent, then choose to opt-out of his deal after only three years

There’s no clear position here, and choosing either side entirely is probably irresponsible. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. Tomas’ age is an assets as is the amount of money he’s owed in the short-term. The power plays and he’s not a good outfielder, but he can probably improve a little and be a better one than we saw in 2016. His plate discipline was horrendous, he’s not a plus athlete by any means and he sure struggled in the final three months of the season. It’s a potentially tough deal in the sense that an acquiring GM will only be willing to trade for three years of value even if he ends up netting five, either because Tomas will opt out or not be worth the money he’s owed in years five and six of his deal.

So who’s a potential trade partner if the D-backs were willing to include Tomas as part of a larger deal to shore up their rotation deficiencies? It would have to be a team willing to bet on their ability to turn him around, improve his approach and refine his fielding ability. A strong track record of player development would be important. Because the final two years of Tomas’ deal are unlikely to provide any surplus value (give that he’d only exercise them if he weren’t in a position to pull in a larger deal after three years), the team might have to be willing to deal him if/as soon as he does turn that corner. Given his power and youth, this could be a buy-low opportunity for a forward-thinking GM. It could also be a $52.5 million quagmire. It is probably something in between.

The odds of finding a team who’s willing to part with a young, cost-controlled, impact starter for just prospects are slim. Prospects, no matter how close to the majors, are risky. Tomas might not be much less risky than, say, Brandon Drury or Braden Shipley, but there’s at least a clearer picture of who he has been and what adjustments need to be made moving forward. I don’t think this is insignificant –  the knowledge that was gained even as Tomas struggled is helpful in potentially moving him forward. It’s highly likely that whomever Arizona ends up trading with, if they end up trading for a starter at all, will want something from the MLB side of things in return. Pollock can’t be that guy. Peralta and Inciarte probably shouldn’t be either. But Tomas offers an interesting opportunity for a visionary GM if he’s willing to bet on his organization to improve the young Cuban. It would take a lot of faith and some serious #rig, but I’m not counting Tomas out as a useful trade asset just yet. Diminished? Certainly. But it’s not over for him, either, and presuming so is selling him short.

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20 Responses to What’s Yasmany Tomas Worth These Days?

  1. Tim says:

    I’ve always thought that the Dbacks are well-suited keeping Inciarte, Peralta and Pollock, with Brito in reserve. Moving Tomas’ contract is no small task, but I like the ideas this article kicks around. To me, selling now on Tomas is risking unknown potential and production. Does he take off next season and perform at a significantly above-average pace? That possibility certainly exists. However, the Dbacks are in a unique position given their OF depth. I would be willing to let that potential go given the current crop of outfielders and the way in which they fit this team. Even if Tomas performs exponentially better, I think using him to acquire a proven starter is worth the loss. Pairing him with a prospect or two to acquire a #1 starter beats the hell out of signing 2 Mike Leakes (in my opinion). If you lose out on future Tomas production, then hey, thankfully we still have 3 very capable outfielders.


  2. Ken says:

    Tomas needs to go before April, plain and simple.

  3. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    I’ve thought about this way too much, and since, as you rightly point out, Tomas’s value is so hard to peg, it seems to me that the only way you can deal him, most likely, is to take money back. So I’ve wondered: would a Tomas plus something-good-but-not-great for Shields make sense? The total money remaining on both contracts is actually not that far apart now (if Tomas hung around for five rather than three years), and Tomas could play 1B for the Padres as well as some OF now and then. I dunno how much the Padres want to shed the Shields contract, but it seems like a conversation worth having.

    From the Dbacks perspective, Shields would likely give you solid innings as a 2 or 3. That’s not bad, especially if he could be paired with a FA signee from the 2nd tier. And if you subtract Tomas from the mix, you’d have the money to do that.


  4. Dave-Phoenix says:

    Tomas would be much more valuable if the D-Backs didn’t have 3 solid outfielders, and a possible 4th in Brito.

    As far as trade value, the same could be said…. Tomas will have more perceived trade value to a team that has a strong need for an outfielder.

    That said…

    I seriously doubt that Tomas will yield the front line starter, the D-Backs need. At best he will yield a solid pitching prospect who is not MLB ready yet. But a deal like that might be worth making as it will free up more salary for buying a free agent pitcher.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      I would agree that Tomas will not net the kind of pitcher the Diamondbacks need in a straight-up, 1-for-1 swap. He could, however, be the MLB piece in a prospect-heavy package for a pitcher the D-backs covet. He’s not enough by himself, but he might be an intriguing additional piece of a larger deal.

    • FishOnEmm says:

      Agreed about Tomas’ value. I see him in a somewhat similar light to Peter O’Brien in that he is likely a solid player but we have better options already in place. Tomas is not as extreme as O’Brien is in that regard, but similar. Maybe an AL team that is completely devoid of power would want to trade a starter for Tomas + O’Brien + B level prospect.

      That would certainly be a lot of talent going to the other team, but I do not think it would hurt the core of our offense because neither of those two contributed much at the big league level last year.

      • Dave-Phoenix says:

        We keep hoping an AL team might want O’Brien or Tomas but in reality, AL teams don’t put more value on hitter-only guys who can’t play defense than NL teams do. A DH-only guy will limit an AL roster quite a bit, and AL teams will go that route only when forced to. They won’t trade for a guy like that.

        Most DH’s are not guys like David Ortiz, they are more like A-Rod, aging veterans who can still play defense, but it takes too much of a toll on their body to go out and play the field every day. Neither O’Brien or Tomas, fit that mold…

  5. rye says:

    I just can’t see another GM taking a risk on Tomas with the back-end of his contract. He basically has to pay off now for him to be worth the effort. We’re stuck with him and that’s that. The best the D-backs can hope for is that he comes back in shape and works hard. We can all dream that some team will come along an save us by taking Tomas off our hands but expecting him to increase the value in any trade I don’t think is realistic. The Braves were really high on him and in the mix for him prior to his signing. If it were an option, do you really think they’d take him off our hands even for nothing? I don’t.

  6. Kevin says:

    How come no one is pointing fingers at De Jon Watson. Wasn’t he the person who was actually in Cuba, scouting and fighting for the signing of both Tomas and Lopez?

    Both signing just look like bad scouting right now, from a new executive overanxious to make a splash. Am I reading this wrong?

    How many more mistakes are these guys going to make? Also, does anyone feel like the acquisition of Sam MacWillliam from Phillie (is that his name?) was Stewart’s attempt to make up for trading Toukie?


    • Dave-Phoenix says:

      With the success of Cespedes, Puig, Jose Abreu, an Aroldis Chapman, people were wondering when who was going to be the first team to overpay for a Cuban player that ended up being a “bust”. The D-Backs are a candidate to be that team…

  7. BobJ says:

    Several points: 1. Our venture into the Cuban market has been less than spectacular. Tomas and Lopez have been mostly disappointing. 2. Trading Tomas would be great! The problem is that in wanting to move him, we look at the positives, and any GM willing to take him on will be pointing out those negatives. Sorry, having watched him play this year, the negatives win, making him difficult to move. The best chance of that happening would be to combine him with a prospect that someone wants (like we did with Touki) and getting back very little in return. To expect a #1 or #2 starter is absurd.

  8. Jeff says:

    Plain and simple, the dbacks shouldn’t be considering any kind of trade unless it is for a PROVEN ace. they already have a stockpile of 3 and 4 starters. unless some team wants to take a chance on tomas in a package of players for a proven ace, no sense in selling low. who knows, chances are he’s never had a real strength and conditioning trainer not to mention perhaps skipping last serie nacional in Cuba really set him back a little bit. Shouldn’t ignore that with a structured conditioning program and some repetitions under his belt, he could really burst onto the scene in a big way next year.I wouldn’t write him off yet.

    • Kevin says:

      Your optimism is appreciated! I like Tomas (as a person) and will continue to pull for his success with the D-backs (assuming we can’t move him).

    • Trading Tomas before 2017 saves the team a fairly hefty pile of money and goes a long way towards relieving the up-coming salary crunch. Tomas, at this point, is the 5th best OF option, but is playing as the 4th OF. His production can almost certainly be replaced from within for a fraction of the cost. So really, it is tough to find a reason NOT to move him.

  9. Ken says:

    Maybe Tomas will end up in AAA where he will be forced to stop swinging at everything. If he keeps up with his bad swings then he will go to AA. Taking up a spot on the DBACK team is keeping Brito from getting needed reps. Maybe he will learn how to hit and come back strong.. Cant wait for spring training..

  10. […] hang up here could be Tomas’ trade value, something that is a little murky. He showed the need for improved plate discipline last season, but the power is undeniable. For a […]

  11. Edd says:

    When the season was like in July/August, I realized that Inciarte was becoming a really solid player and Peralta was batting for average too. I’m not saying I’m against Tomas but clearly he is the 4th Outfielder there. Inciarte provides a sharp glove, speed and bats for average, he is a pain in the ass for pitchers when batting. Peralta has improved a lot his batting vs lefties skills and so his defense (although he is not close to AJ or Ender) and Pollock filled in the roster in 2003 because of Cody Ross Injury… and never went back to AAA. His breakout season does not surprise me, but the attention he is getting around the MLB does. So sadly Tomas will be my 1st choice to deal. What I though also was that Stewart signed him for a big amount of Money and maybe he still thinks Yasmani can hit for Power and improve the team. I’m not sure of front office will give up on him so quick, and might send a message to other top free agents: “I don’t mind trading you if you don’t meet my expectations”. Of course is not wrong at all, but some of those fellas want some security about where are they going to be next year.
    It might happen that no one is dealt for security also. Injuries are always around the corner so having a backup emergency player such as Yasmani is better than rushing a AAA prospect.

  12. […] Beane says” kind of thing). Prior to the plan being published, I even dove specifically into Tomas’ trade value, something that about as uncertain as uncertain can be. Other guys like Pollock, David Peralta, […]

  13. […] mesh with the initial scouting reports of a slugger with plus-plus power. Weighing all of that, his trade value is as hard to peg as are the chances that he takes a big leap forward next […]

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