How much of an improvement would Yasmani Tomas be over Ryan Ludwick? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 Cincinnati Reds were plagued by a lack of offensive production that cannibalized a competitive first half and a surprisingly strong showing by the starting pitching staff. As the off-season wears on, the Reds need to find a way to beef up their offense, and left field is a prime candidate for improvement. There is no perfect upgrade available, but based on potential alone, Cuban free agent Yasmani Tomas looks like one of the best outfield bats on the market.
Why He’s Available
Tomas has been a star on the Cuban baseball scene since 2008 when he was just 18 years old. Now, after the big contracts signed by the likes of Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Abreu, Tomas is set to take his shot at Major League riches. He defected this summer and is expected to be the subject of intense bidding by several teams when free agency gets underway in a few weeks.
Why He Fits for the Reds
Tomas can play either corner of the outfield, which means the Reds could slot him into left field and could also slide him over to right when Jay Bruce is resting or at first base (presumably when Joey Votto is resting). Tomas’ defense is rated as average by most scouts, but Cincinnati is not looking for a defensive wizard in left.
No, the hot commodity that Tomas brings to bear is offense, particularly power. He tends to hit high, dramatic-looking home runs and grades out near the top of the power charts, along with showing OK on-base skills.
He does strike out a lot, and he is not a fast runner, but those are typical downsides to Major League sluggers.
Why He Might NOT Fit for the Reds
The biggest reason that Tomas would be a stretch for the Reds, and may even keep them out of the game entirely, is the expected cost of signing him. Even though the Reds have been active in the Cuban market by signing both Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias, those pitchers fell firmly in the sub-$50 million category.
Tomas, on the other hand, enters a market bereft of offensive talent and is expected to draw interest from all corners. Some estimates have his eventual deal at nine figures.
When you put it all together, it’s hard to see the Reds landing Tomas. He will simply be out of their price range, especially considering that teams like the Philadelphia Phillies are said to be serious suitors.
Cincinnati’s baseball pockets are only so deep, and the current roster has already chewed up most of those salary dollars.