Doing homework on a topic doesn’t guarantee it’ll be part of the next exam. Nor does doing homework on an international free agent guarantee a team is genuinely interested in the player.
With this information in mind, we perhaps shouldn’t read too much into the Red Sox hosting Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas for a private workout Sunday in the Dominican Republic. However, it’s still an interesting development because Boston, in theory, could choose to get creative this offseason.
One glimpse at the Red Sox’s roster shows what’s been driven home since August. Boston has a crowded outfield from which the club could deal this offseason, especially if front-line starting pitching — the Red Sox’s biggest need — becomes available on the trade market. It’s almost a matter of “who will go?” rather than “will someone go?” because there simply are too many warm bodies for too few spots.
The Red Sox’s offseason outfield approach could rely heavily on the quality of return. If the Red Sox target Cole Hamels, Chris Sale, Johnny Cueto or some other No. 1 starter, they’ll undoubtedly be asked about Mookie Betts, even if they don’t ultimately relinquish the talented 22-year-old. Yoenis Cespedes also could net a sizable return given his immense power — the rarest commodity in baseball — whereas Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. have less value for a variety of reasons.
As it stands, Cespedes, Betts and Rusney Castillo seem like logical options to start in 2015. Adding Tomas to the mix doesn’t make sense unless the Red Sox deal from that group. If the Red Sox traded Betts and/or Cespedes, particularly for starting pitching, an aggressive pursuit of Tomas would become an intriguing idea, albeit one that’s still far-fetched. Tomas is believed to be seeking a contract north of Castillo’s seven-year, $72.5 million pact.
Tomas apparently has big-time power, with Cespedes’ pop being one point of comparison. Tomas, who projects as a corner outfielder, apparently doesn’t have Castillo’s speed and is considered by some to be a risky investment based on his limited track record, though one could argue that plunging into the international market inherently carries risk and fear shouldn’t deter the Red Sox, or any other team, from rolling the dice.
A captivating reality is that Tomas is turning just 24 this month. That means whichever team signs him will gain a potentially impactful player before his peak. Cespedes is only 29, but there’s some question as to whether the new Jay Z client will sign an extension with Boston after the 2015 season. Tomas represents a long-term investment worth exploring if other dominoes fall.
Right now, it’s hard to imagine Tomas’ workout with the Red Sox being anything more than due diligence. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford even said it was held mostly out of convenience as Tomas prepares for his first season in Major League Baseball.
Situations can change in a heartbeat, though. The Red Sox can’t afford to skip any homework assignments during a very important offseason.
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