The Yasmany Tomás saga has been a blight for Diamondbacks fans. His maladroit play in the field coupled with some pretty frustrating at-bats has only proven to make the bad feel worse. Such obvious displays of subpar play stick in the minds of fans. Understandably so.

Things didn’t always seem so hopeless around Yasmany Tomás. As Nick Piecoro reminds us in his excellent exposition into Tomás’s tenure with the team, the deal was considered as a “relative bargain” in some circles. Nick details the environment that fostered the signing, and at the time, the outcome that has turned into the present didn’t seem all too likely. But here we are and what once looked like a boon has materialized into a curse.

As Nick points out, Tomás’s onerous contract and occupation of a roster spot has likely influenced transactions ranging from the front office not re-signing J.D. Martinez to the infamous Shelby Miller trade. With over $45 million and three years left on his deal, he’ll likely be around in some capacity for the foreseeable future. While the contract may not be going anywhere, his playing time in the desert looks to be evaporating. Barring any injuries, it seems rather likely that Yasmany will be starting his season in the minors. The team is already carrying 12 position players, as Nick states, and assuming they continue to have a third catcher on the 25-man roster, that leaves no room for Tomás.

Yasmany Tomás is plainly a sunk cost at this point. There’s little chance in trading him, aside from a bad-contract swap, and his contract is guaranteed. As an NL player, he’s also a man without a position and the team is decidedly not going to repeat the debacle of 2016, in which he received over 1,000 innings in the field. The new front office correctly reading the writing on the wall and positioning themselves to do what’s best for winning baseball games is most welcomed. As is, there is no room for him on the major league roster and despite the money that would be burning, he shouldn’t be there.

It seems hard to believe he wouldn’t see any playing time in 2018, however. After all, injuries are still a thing, interleague play happens, matchups take place, and the unpredictable usually occurs. So, let’s see if we can’t find some way that he winds up in the majors again.

I’m sure many fans would be content to have him out of sight, out of mind indefinitely. It’s worth considering, though, that he still has some amount of skill to offer. ZiPS projects that he is good for a wRC+ of 104 and a slash of .275/.317/.500. Maybe that seems a bit overstated when the humidor takes effect this season.  Nevertheless, as far as right-handed power goes, there’s one hitter on the Diamondbacks roster projected to have a higher ISO – Paul Goldschmidt. The point remains, however, that he is still one of the better bats on the team. Even with the addition of Steve Souza Jr., Tomás is still projected as the sixth best hitter on the team, according to ZiPS. What’s more, over his career, Tomás has a wRC+ of 132 against lefties.

Finding Tomás playing time isn’t necessarily the difficult part. With 10 road games against AL teams, there’s probably about 45 plate appearance opportunities right there. And maybe there are a few left field starts against a lefty or pinch-hit appearances available for him. The harder part is finding scenarios where he is on the major league roster, and thus eligible to receive any of these hypothetical opportunities.

Imagining David Peralta or A.J. Pollock suffering an injury and missing playing time isn’t particularly inconceivable. There are almost assuredly going to be times where one of the four outfielders on the 25-man roster takes a DL stint. The question then becomes, who gets called up? Maybe the team calls up Socrates Brito or Jeremy Hazelbaker. Both can handle the field well enough, though they don’t bring much of anything by way of offense. Depending on how long they need a replacement, it’s reasonable to guess that they might just use one of them as a stop-gap, or perhaps they make another trade for a Michael Bourn-like player if the need is desperate enough.

Then there is calling up Tomás. With Chris Owings reportedly being expected to be playing some right and left field already, perhaps he and Descalso fill in as a proverbial fourth outfielder with Tomás seeing some plate appearances as a DH or a pinch-hitter.

If the team wanted to get creative, he could even start a game in a lefty matchup in left field. He could take his two plate appearances and then be replaced defensively. While the team might need to be a bit more imaginative to find Tomás playing time should he be called up, there are certainly a few ways to get him some at-bats.

Despite some of the painful-to-watch at-bats we’ve seen from Yasmany Tomás, the point remains that there are situations where he is a valuable bat for the team – especially given the team’s lack of right-handed power. How much the team believes that remains to be seen, but maybe there is some salvageable value left. It might not be much, but it might be more than they’ve gotten so far.


13 Responses to Doubting Tomás: The Trouble with Finding Yasmany Playing Time

  1. AzDbackFaninDc says:

    Nice article!

  2. Bob Cayne says:

    The Dodgers have their own Cuban disaster. Theirs is an uncontrollable maniac. Ours needs a fire ignited under his keister.

    LA fans are in for unpredictable entertainment. Arizona is stuck with a $40 million sleep walker in left, Reno or Havana––pick one.

  3. shoewizard says:

    Small Sample Size Alert:

    Tomas career pinch hitting:

    31 Plate appearances

    3 for 31, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 0 walks, 14 K’s !

    Pinch hitting is hard. But his lack of focus and ability to have consistent “professional” at bats probably precludes the team from depending on him much as a pinch hitter.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I was going to make the same comment as Shoe. It may be a small sample size, but even beyond his abysmal production int he role, nothing about Tomas’s approach at the plate says “here’s a pinch hitter!”

    Let’s just take a look at the roster, too, to see whether carrying him makes sense from a broader perspective. If the team carries 13 pitchers, there are four bench roles available.

    Assuming for the moment that the starting infielders are Marte and Ahmed, then we know that Owings has one of those bench roles.

    Mathis/Avila has another.

    And Dyson definitely has another.

    That leaves one slot open, with Descalso, Tomas, and Herrmann the leading candidates.

    Descalso is no great shakes, but he can back-up at least three infield and two outfield positions. That’s important in the NL, even if Torey didn’t double-switch much last year.

    Herrmann, of course, lets you pinch-hit for your catcher and can also play three or four positions.

    So both of those guys, while worse hitters than Tomas, offer some serious advantages. I don’t think Tomas’s ability to hit lefties well comes anywhere near offsetting those advantages.

    Long story short: I see no scenario outside of at least one and possibly two outfield injuries where Tomas makes the squad. He is going to be DFA’d (as Nick all but states explicitly), gotten off the 40-man, and sent to Reno. Which is about where he belongs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    One more thing. The Hazen FO has signed or traded for guys like Marte, Dyson, Souza, Mathis, Iannetta, and Avila in the last two years. They are now moving Owings out of the starting lineup. There are some pretty clear preferences here:

    1. Defense. Except for Iannetta and Avila, all of these guys are known for, or were thought to have the potential for (in Marte’s case) being strong defenders. Owings moving to a super-utility role, and trading Drury away, is yet another indication of the FO’s preference for the strongest defense possible.

    2. On-base skills. All of these guys take their walks and are patient at the plate. Marte was the only exception, and his walk rate shot up to 11.4% last year. (Drury’s career walk rate is 5.9%.)

    3. Baserunning. Leaving the catchers out of it, Marte, Dyson, and Souza are excellent baserunners.

    Now, J. D. Martinez didn’t fit the mold of #1 or #3, obviously, but he was patient and a true masher without much in the way of platoon splits. He was a pretty good pickup. 😉

    Anyway, with the relegation of Tomas we see the FO simply continue to implement its vision of a team built around patient hitters, defense, and baserunning. They aren’t going to make a place for him, or anyone, whose only skill is to mash lefties.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      I feel pretty confident that Owings will be the starting second baseman. Marte and Owings up the middle will be pretty awesome, and subbing Ahmed in on occasion will be good, too. Probably pull him off the bench late in games to race LHPs and leave him in the game at short with Marte or Owings sliding to second in some cases.

      • Lamar Jimmerson says:

        That makes sense. But reading the tea leaves, it doesn’t seem like what the team has planned, since Torey has spoken to Owings about being a super-utility guy.

        In any case, there is no room for Tomas unless there is a spring injury.

  6. Legendopolis says:

    We’ve got to be heading for a platoon at third base — who’s getting the RH at bats?

  7. Freighttrainfan says:

    Is there really any evidence that the Diamondbacks prefer Ahmed and Marte to Owings and Marte? Considering that Owings has a better career OPS than either Marte or Ahmed, I would think that Owings would be the favorite for a starting infield spot. I don’t think that there is any doubt about Ahmed being the best defender of the three, but again Owings beats Marte in fielding percentage. I’m not trying to run down Marte, I’m just wondering why it seems to be a common notion that Owings does not have a chance at being an every day player in the diamondbacks lineup.

  8. […] Doubting Tomás: The Trouble with Finding Yasmany Playing Time […]

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanksso much for the post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

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