For the Phillies, there really only is one option to make themselves better next year, and in the five-to-seven years after that. There is only one thing they can do to generate excitement and improve the middle of the order, without sacrificing a draft pick or sinking money into an aging veteran player.
Happily, it seems as if the Phils know they need to pursue Cuban soon-to-be free agent outfielder Yasmani Tomas, too. This today from Baseball America's Ben Badler...
The Phillies have a private showcase scheduled for today with Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas at their facility in the Dominican Republic, according to a source. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro is among the Phillies contingent that is expected to be on hand to watch Tomas.
Tomas, 23, had an open showcase at the Giants’ Dominican complex on Sunday that drew hundreds of scouts. Tomas will continue to have private showings for other teams as well, though Major League Baseball has not declared him a free agent yet. Tomas does have permanent residency papers from Haiti and his specific unblocking license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury, so his free agency should be coming soon. Since Tomas has played five seasons in Cuba, it’s assumed he will be exempt from the international bonus pools, although MLB wouldn’t confirm that yet since he’s not a free agent.
Despite some of the red tape that remains to be cleared, it appears as though MLB teams will soon be able to bid for the 23-year-old slugger.
I wrote about Tomas back in June. Simply put, he would be a perfect addition for the Phillies. Unfortunately for the Phils, he would also be a perfect fit for just about any other big market club.
The Red Sox just signed Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal, and he's not seen as quite as good a prospect as the power-hitting Tomas. It's entirely possible Tomas could get a seven-year deal north of $100 million.
Regardless, the Phillies should make signing him their top priority this off-season, even at that price tag. Power hitting corner outfielders are a rare commodity in today's Major Leagues, and at just 23, he would not only provide lineup stability now, but also for the next good Phillies team, which we all hope will arrive some time in the next 2-3 years.
Sure, they may not get him. After all, Tomas will have plenty of offers from which to choose. And signing an international player is always a risk. He may turn out to be a bust.
But it's a risk the Phillies have to take and, hopefully, their private workout with him today is just the first step in a courtship that will see Tomas starting in left field at some point in 2015.