Baseball is one of the few sports where an athlete lacking world-class fitness can be made into a millionaire. Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas is the perfect example of this. His bat was rumored to be something worth an MLB roster spot. After spring training, the Arizona Diamondbacks swiftly decided that his defense and physical limitations were better suited for minor league baseball.
Tomas was optioned to Triple-A before the season began. With Mark Trumbo in right field, the D-backs wanted to try and get his bat into the lineup by giving him regular reps at third base in the preseason. He appeared to be in over his head, as he led the club in errors on defense with three and tallied a worrisome .935 fielding percentage.
Trumbo has a proven track record in MLB and that’s why the D-backs traded for him to be their everyday right fielder before the start of last season. The scouting report on Tomas was that he could hit mostly for power, but his glove and range in the field were underwhelming. He would have been far better suited to sign with an American League club and get at-bats playing as a designated hitter. Experts don’t think he will hit for a high average in MLB either, putting his usefulness at the plate akin to somewhere between a Mark Reynolds or a Ryan Ludwick for a right-handed hitter.
Yet the D-backs still signed him and are now trying to take a step back and say they just want him to get regular at-bats in Triple-A. Give me a break, Chip Hale. The truth of the matter is, big league clubs do not sign 24-year-old free agents to long-term deals that pay in excess an average of over $10 million per season to watch them ‘develop’ alongside 39-year-old players drafted in the ninth round of a 1998 amateur draft.
Why Arizona even thought Tomas could be a starting third baseman purveys questionable logic on behalf of the organization.
Jake Lamb is the same age as Tomas and has spent three seasons playing in the D-backs’ farm system. He smashed the ball in Double-A last season to the tune of a .318/.399/.551 slash line with 14 home runs and 79 RBI. What’s more, is he is a natural third baseman. Not a shabby outfield convert like Arizona wants Tomas to be. Even Brandon Drury could prove to be a more formidable prospect at third base for Arizona.
Tomas’ ceiling at the plate is probably a bit higher than Lamb’s is, but in surplus of 300 MLB innings manning third, Lamb has a .987 FPCT with only a single error. He’s the right man for the job and that is why Tomas is traveling town-to-town on a bus in the minors.
The Boston Red Sox face a familiar situation with outfielder Rusney Castillo. The scenarios don’t look good for either club, but there are few questions surrounding Castillo’s ability to contribute defensively at one of the most fundamental levels of the game. It’s merely a conflict of being too talented and deep in the outfield for the BoSox. Castillo would almost certainly have broken camp with the D-backs as their starting left fielder in a hypothetical situation. But with Hanley Ramirez manning left and Mookie Betts in center, that leaves three very capable player, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig and Daniel Nava to fill in where needed. Even ultra utility man Brock Holt is capable of playing the outfield.
Castillo should be with Boston before Tomas joins the Diamondbacks. While the D-backs aren’t alluding to anything, it’s more important for Tomas to get regular playing time on defense than it is for him to get regular at-bats on the farm. The last thing a team coming off a 98 loss season needs is to be paying $68 million for a player who sounds capable of comedic defensive and follies on a regular basis.