Monday, October 20, 2014

Why the Padres Should Conditionally Sign: Yasmany Tomás

After a season of inept offensive players and injuries plaguing an otherwise exceptional season from a pitching standpoint, fans have clamored for new general manager A.J. Preller to swoop in and grab the hot new thing on the market, power-hitting Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomás. In his first week as a free agent, the Padres hosted two private workouts for him. Preller attended both. The 23-year old is represented by Jay Alou, who also represents other high profile names such as Ervin Santana, Jose Bautista, and Danny SalazarTomás has been compared to recent Cuban defectors Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, with more power at a younger age. He can hit for power, but isn't the strongest runner or defensive player, despite showing a top-notch arm in the outfield. Early reports indicate that he is a very positive clubhouse presence and an extremely hard worker. 

Tomás is expected to fetch about a tenth of a billion dollars on the open market, with teams like the Rangers, Phillies, and Dodgers in the running. A.J. Preller's calling card is his ability to evaluate and sign international free agents, something that the team has tried to focus on in recent seasons. If Ron Fowler's ownership wants to make a major splash, this might just be it. A nine figure commitment would double any contract that the Padres have ever handed out, and triple any contract that they have actually paid. The Padres have just forty-one million dollars committed to spend on players in 2015, but have Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and others to dole out arbitration raises to.

A contract for Yasmany Tomás would probably be about what the Padres could afford to spend for the entire offseason. If Tomás busts, then San Diego won't have the payroll flexibility to do much at all in future years. If he breaks out and hits forty home runs, who will protect him in the lineup? Yasmani Grandal and Jedd Gyorko hit a combined .218, despite being the team's best hitters. Carlos Quentin still isn't healthy. Ready for spring training? I'll believe it when I see it.

The best approach to the offseason may be a higher volume of moves than major league teams are used to. If the team moves Ross, Kennedy, and Joaquin Benoit (and non-tenders Eric Stults) for hitters like Javier Baez, Oscar Taveras, Pedro Alvarez, and/or Starlin Castro, they could free over thirty million dollars in payroll, and put that towards signing cheap, rebound options like Brett Anderson, Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Johnson, and Justin Masterson to add depth to the rotation and middle infield. An offseason like that still leaves room to sign Tomás. In my opinion, the only way a deal for Tomás makes sense, is if the Padres can get creative and manage to fill the offense with high upside, young hitting paired with a veteran staff behind a healthy Andrew Cashner, and have the payroll to spare for him. 

Darren Balsley is one of the best pitching coaches in the game, especially when it comes to reclamation projects. Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy were both under his wing at one point. Utilize his talents, A.J. Preller! If the team can add bats via trade, grab some projects like the aforementioned (Anderson and Masterson, anyone?), and then spend the leftover cash on some bats like Asdrubal Cabrera and Yasmany Tomás, the team could compete in 2015. 

Based on the way major league teams are run right now, there won't be enough activity to get to that point. If a major commitment will limit Preller's ability to put quality all over the field, then it isn't the answer.