A Red Sox offseason already ripe with possibilities took on a little added intrigue Sunday with the news that the Sox held a private workout for Yasmany Tomas, the 23-year-old Cuban outfielder who left the island in June and is expected to sign for a deal that may trump the six-year, $72.5 million the Sox gave Rusney Castillo three months ago.
Tomas, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, is valued primarily for his raw power, which scouts have rated as not quite the equal of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, who hit 36 home runs and had a major-league leading .581 slugging percentage, but may be comparable to Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Tomas, who worked out for all 30 major league clubs in the Dominican Republic in late September, had worked out privately since for a handful of clubs but not the Red Sox, who at first blush did not seem a candidate to enter the high-stakes bidding for another Cuban outfielder.
But on Sunday, Tomas’s agent, Jay Alou Jr., tweeted out the news that Tomas had worked out at Boston’s academy in the Dominican Republic:
Jay Alou Jr. is the son of Jesus Alou, the former major league outfielder (brother of Felipe and Matty) who for the last 13 seasons has served as director of Boston’s Dominican Academy.
Tomas, who was a teammate of Castillo on the Cuban national team, played five seasons for the Havana Industriales in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He also played for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, batting .412 (6 for 16) with two home runs and a double.
He is reported to have defected from Cuba in June, and like Castillo subsequently established residency in Haiti, making him eligible to sign as a free agent. The Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs, Tigers, Padres, Twins and Rangers have all been identified as potential suitors for Tomas, who is projected to be in line for a six-to-seven year deal averaging between $10 million and $15 million a year.
Here was an evaluation of Tomas on fangraphs.com:
”The consensus is that as a prospect Tomas ranks behind White Sox 1B Jose Abreu, who got six years and $68 million before the season, as Tomas is a riskier bat with less of a track record and a little less raw power. Many scouts prefer Castillo, who got seven years and $72.5 million last month, as Castillo is a plus-plus runner that can play an up-the-middle position and is a little better bet to hit for some scouts, as well.
“That said, Abreu and Castillo were both signed for their age-27 seasons while Tomas will be 24 next year and should be big league ready at some point in 2015. Scouts on the low-end for Tomas mention Dayan Viciedo as a comparable while more scouts think Yoenis Cespedes is a better offensive comparison, though Cespedes is quicker-twitch athlete with more speed and defense value.’’
Should the Sox become serious suitors for Tomas, who is said to have below-average speed and projects as a corner outfielder, that could signal their willingness to trade Cespedes, who is a free agent after the 2015 season and does not appear to be a strong candidate to sign a long-term extension before then.