Cuban defector Yasmani Tomás has been cleared by the U.S. government, taking another step toward being a major league free agent, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The outfielder is projected to be the next big Cuban signee, following Rusney Castillo, who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox on August 23.
Tomas has a thick 6-foot-2, 245-pound build, and his impressive power and age earned him the distinction of being the sixth-best prospect at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In the tournament, the stout outfielder went 6-for-16 with two homers (here is one of them). Suffice to say, he has power. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, Tomas' power rates as 70 on the 20-80 scale.
Jesse Sanchez adds that Tomás is agile for his size and has a strong throwing arm. One big knock on the outfielder's game seems to be his swing-and-miss tendency. Per Badler, he may be able to handle the big league lineup, but for optimal development, Tomás would have to be placed Triple-A for a time. Another Badler report notes that Tomás's swing had some holes (uppercut; trouble handling quality breaking balls) that U.S. power pitchers might be able to exploit. Ideally, the outfielder would adjust like Jose Abreu did stateside.
Tomás made his professional debut with the Havanna Industriales as a 18 year-old in 2008. The outfielder had a breakout season in 2011-2012, hitting .301/.340/.580 with 16 home runs in 240 plate appearances. From age 21 to 23 seasons, the Cuban slugger has a .293/.350/.523 slash line. Per data compiled by GW of ObstructedView.net, his line is not as impressive as other Cuban defectors from the same age range -- though his isolated power is at the Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes level, at least.
How much will he get paid? His agent, Jay Alou, is confident Tomas will receive a record amount, per Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald. The record amount Alou is talking about would exceed Rusney Castillo's $72.5 million deal. Alou, who also represents Jose Bautista and Ervin Santana, believes that Tomás's power and youth will net the biggest contract ever landed for a Cuban defector.
While Rusney Castillo is more dynamic in physical skills, Tomás is about raw power and youth. He is no Abreu, but Tomas' positive attributes should be enough for major league teams to give him some serious offers. A team that is willing to put up big money on Tomás is also betting on him to stay healthy, be open to swing and approach adjustments, and, of course, not to fall into the fast food trap.