Could the Phillies be on the verge of landing the next Cuban superstar?
According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Phils are seen as the leading contenders to sign the 23-year-old slugging outfielder, competing with six other teams for Tomas' services.
To that, we can add this: People involved in the process now identify the Phillies as strong contenders for Tomas, and the Padres and Dodgers as far less likely. "And don’t count out the Tigers," one source said.
Working in the Phils' favor this time around is the glut of outfielders currently playing for two other big-money teams, the Yankees and Red Sox. New York has Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran all lined up for next season, while Boston has Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. all vying for outfield spots next year.
The Phillies are desperate to add a young, impact bat to their outfield.
"He makes a lot of sense for Philadelphia," said one rival executive, noting that that the Phillies have money, a thin farm system, and a desire to reverse their fortunes as quickly as possible. Plus, people around the game took note when GM Ruben Amaro Jr. flew to the Dominican Republic to personally scout Tomas.
Martino says scouts see Tomas as being a better player than Castillo, but not quite as good as the White Sox' Jose Abreu, who will likely win AL Rookie of the Year honors this year.
However, if the Phillies want him, they're going to have to pony up the dough.
Multiple executives with teams interested in Tomas say that, if he were a free agent, he would be a $15 million per year player, making a 5-year, $75 million contract for 23-year-old reasonable. But because he is not attached to a draft pick, and will be the subject of a bidding war, Tomas could easily end up with a $100 million deal, executives say.
A $100 million-plus contract is almost a guarantee at this point. Cuban ballplayers are all the rage right now, seen as a quick way to add Major League talent that is younger than most MLB free agents. Castillo, who scouts say is not quite the player Tomas is, landed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Boston.
The Phillies, or any team that signs him, will likely have to match that seven years, and probably up the ante somewhere in the neighborhood of $90-100 million.
They should not be afraid to pay that price.
Happily, based on these reports, it appears the Phillies are willing to pay whatever it takes to bring Yasmany Tomas to Philadelphia, a move that would inject youth and talent to a team in desperate need of it.