Yasmany Tomas‘ production this season leaves the Diamondbacks at a bit of a crossroads. On a back-loaded deal with an opt-out after year four, his contract is team-friendly in the near-term. That changes significantly, however, as his salary increases to $10M in 2018, $15.5M in 2019, and $17M in 2020. The timing of those increases is poor, as the team will have significant arbitration salaries to pay to players like A.J. Pollock, Patrick Corbin, David Peralta, Jake Lamb and others during that span, not to mention considering a long-term deal with Paul Goldschmidt and the continued cost of Zack Greinke. We can see a bubble looming, one that will have real consequences.

Tomas, of course, failed to live up to expectations in his first big league season, producing offense at a rate 12% below league average. Coupled with hide-your-eyes defense in the outfield, it wasn’t clear that Tomas was even a big league talent, let alone someone worthy of a $68.5 million investment out of Cuba. With a notably questionable approach at the plate, we wondered whether or not Tomas was even worthy of a roster spot.

The team cleared that up by trading away Ender Inciarte, a successful but not overpowering player, this winter. Tomas was going to play every day, it seemed, and to date, he mostly has. There’s been some growth in production this season to go along with his playing time, most notably some strong power output. To date, he’s one of only 45 players with more than 2o home runs and one of only 33 players with an ISO above .230, placing him in the top 20% in isolated power. His second-half surge has been notable, as he’s hit .342/.366/.679 since the All-Star break.

Streaky at the plate, Tomas has simply not improved in the outfield. His failings at third base pulled the plug on that experiment early on, but his move to the outfield hasn’t provided a respite. Among all qualified outfielders, he’s seventh-worst in UZR/150 and tied for seventh worst in DRS. Even though he’s producing runs at the plate, he’s hemorrhaging them in the outfield, weighing down the total package. In fact, the offense is barely enough to make him more than replacement level, which while an improvement over his 2015 effort, still leaves plenty to be desired.

This left me wondering, as the game has gotten smarter about valuing defense and overall production over offense alone, does Tomas’ 2016 season seem like an anomaly? How many players have hit for his kind of power recently and been worth less than a full win? He seems like a lock to amass 25 or more home runs but unlikely to surpass 1-win as measured by fWAR. How common is this today?

As it turns out, pretty rare. Over the last five seasons, this has only happened nine times. Tomas would be the 10th occurrence.

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We know what kind of players these guys are — sluggers without a defensive position, either relegating them to designated hitter/first base duties or some poor coverage in the outfield. Of these players, we see guys that were usually much older than Tomas’ current age of 25. Simply put, these are generally aging players who have either been hampered by injuries or are simply slowing down. Tomas has neither excuse. He’s got a sore neck at the moment, but he’s just not up to par on defense and the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff is paying the price, even if he is providing some run support.

And this brings us back to the crossroads. Tomas has shown notable growth in his power output, but little growth elsewhere. He’s still not walking much, instead opting to chase pitches at a concerning rate. He strikes out plenty as his contact rate leaves a little something to be desired. His plate discipline simply hasn’t improved at all, and while he’s hitting the ball out of the park more, he’s not doing much else. He doesn’t appear to be turning a defensive corner any time soon and his physical skills are likely to begin slowing down throughout the duration of his contract. The metrics like him better in right field than in left, so maybe there’s something to be said for just letting him play right as long as he can, because there’s no DH spot in the NL and he’s not about to displace Paul Goldschmidt any time soon.

As we discussed in The Offseason Plan, he’s simply not an asset for the Diamondbacks. The NL West is chalk full of big outfields. While his power has been impressive at times, Tomas’ overall skill is just a poor fit for Chase Field. It can be tempting to see if he’ll improve down the stretch and wonder just might come of a third full season in the majors, but with his peripherals not showing signs of improvement, we’re left to assume that what you see is what you get with Tomas or pray he decides to become a more discerning swinger.

This winter could be the time to sell on Tomas, even if the return isn’t all that big. Getting out from under the money he’s owed would be an accomplishment in its own right and help ease the team’s financial future to a degree. 25+ home run threats are often tough to acquire and there is some reason to believe his services could be desirable on the market. The Diamondbacks should try to trade him while they can, as aside from hitting some home runs, there’s not much to be gained from employing Yasmany Tomas.

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17 Responses to Moving Yasmany Tomas Should Be a Priority This Winter

  1. Steven says:

    Could he be compared with Jay Bruce in regards to the kind of return we could look for? With at least 2 years of control at an AAV of 8M (or 4 years at 12M)

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      We can look at this a number of ways. If you wanted to see it as a 4-year deal with a $12M AAV, he needs to be worth about two wins a year to justify the contract. In a different park with a smaller outfield, maybe he gets there. Also, teams may evaluate players differently (as opposed to fWAR), so there’s maybe someone who sees him as worth more. Even then, it looks like a break-even deal at best for them, diminishing the potential return.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can see Boston being interested in using him as Big Papi’s replacement, not to mention the deep pockets they have that’ll make it easier for them to absorb his contract

    • Jim Ellis says:

      I was thinking Boston as well, but let’s be honest, much of the AL would like a guy such as Tomas should they forecast more growth at the plate. Looking at his cost, I do think the deep pockets make a difference. Unless several teams express interest, I can’t see the price getting too nigh unfortunately. I don’t remember hearing anything about other teams having any interest a few weeks ago unfortunately. Finish strong Tomas!

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      Only problem there might be that they can afford to set their sights higher. There’s a lot of cash to work with.

  3. Matt says:

    On a somewhat unrelated note I’ve recently begun entertaining the notion of the Dbacks going after Billy Hamilton. I don’t know that the Reds have any desire to move him but he seems like someone who could be had at not a sky high price, who’s offense should play up in Chase (rarely strikes out), and who’s defense could help the team immensely. Not to mention the obvious plus of 60 stolen bases a year. I don’t see the Reds having any interest in Tomas as they just unloaded a better version of him, but should we be able to move him I think a run at Hamilton could be worth a look.

  4. BobJ says:

    Good idea to trade Tomas! Now all we need is a team willing to take on a defensively challenged (I am being kind here)outfielder/DH with poor plate discipline who only seems to hit when no one is on base and makes an average of 12M/year. Hmmmmm. We may have to include two or three minor leaguers of value to get someone to take him off our hands.

  5. Lamar Jimmerson says:

    Amen and amen.

    Let’s hope the FO is thinking the same way. (I’d be shocked if they were.)

  6. Larry Person says:

    Why not put Tomas on waivers now and let St. Louis claim him? He’s no worse a defender than the recently DLed Holliday!

  7. shoewizard says:

    I’m pretty sure that Tomas, along with most everyone else making more than 2 M a year except for Goldy, has already been placed on waivers or will be shortly.

    I don’t think Tomas clears waivers. As bad as his defense and his base running are, teams like right handed power and will pay for it.

    So any trade needs to happen in the off season most likely.

    One thing to think about is if you believe his power surge will continue and he can put up a 30 homer season NEXT year, how that would affect his trade value as well. Although as pointed out in the article, his plate discipline hasn’t really improved, despite what the booth is telling us.

    In June his first pitch swing percentage was 47%. Now it’s 51%.

    Thats 8 points out in front of #2 Corey Seager, and 22% points higher than league average.

    guys can be successful in the high 30’s and even low 40″s. Bryce Harper was at 38% last year. But 50’s %. That my friends is a tipping point. It will catch up to him sooner rather than later


  8. Anonymous says:

    well you guys nailed this. Two problems with Yasmany, first is his defense in the big outfields. These guys must of thought they could get away with his limited defensive everything, like Holiday, but your skilled reasoning on the Chase outfield nails it on why he can’t. These guys didn’t learn the trumbo/dunn lesson. What notes does Larussa take? Tomas has excellent balance, power, batspeed, and great hand eye coordination, a great swing too. He kills breaking ball mistakes, loves to see sinkers too. Now if the league gives him a generous zone where he’s not in swing mode, especially in inconsequential situations, he’ll put up numbers, and due to his natural inside out swing, with line drive power should continue go thru hot streaks as we’ve seen. When you watch guys like Yasmany in practice, its easy to be fooled. Game situations, with the analytics, though are a pretty prudent way, to watch how to spend the money though.

  9. Anonymous says:

    if the cubs took him he might put up mvp numbers

  10. Dave-Phoenix says:

    Tomas may end up being a 30 home run hitter this year.

    Home Runs are sexy. As a 30 home run guy, Tomas’ trade value may be high enough to allow the D-backs to make a deal.

    Even if they don’t get a great player in return, the payroll flexibility and the upgrade in defense will make it worthwhile.

  11. […] then turn it’s attention to the corner outfield to shore up it’s weaknesses, including a trade of Yasmany […]

  12. Larry Person says:

    The way Yasmany is putting up sexy numbers, there is now no way he will stay with the D’backs after next year. He’ll exercise his opt out clause before the D’backs need to pay him big bucks. If they can’t trade him for an attractive return, they should wait until the trade deadline next year and trade him as a rental and still get the same return.

  13. […] injuries all year and for all the homers Yasmany Tomas hits, his defense is basically terrible, putting him in rare territory. Socrates Brito couldn’t add anything and the team’s best option going forward might be […]

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