The latest object of nearly every major league team’s desire is a Cuban baseball player—more specifically, a Cuban slugger. This craze was started by Yoenis Cespedes, then put into high gear by the “Wild Horse,” Yasiel Puig, and capped off by last season’s American League Rookie of the Year, Jose Abreu.

Their calling card is power, but they also bring athleticism and excitement to the field and the lineup. So it makes sense that the next big athletic slugger to come out of Cuba would be heavily sought after.

Outfielder Yasmani Tomas is that kind of player—athletic and powerful. Just about every team has scouted this guy, and there is a large amount of buzz that the Atlanta Braves are one of the teams most interested. But I say Tomas is a poor fit for Atlanta, and here’s why.



The Braves have operated with a tight budget for nearly a decade, and Tomas is reportedly seeking a big monetary commitment, according to Jesse Sanchez of

The slugger is believed to be seeking at least a five to seven year deal with an annual salary near $15 million, but the Tomas’ camp has not ruled out the possibility of signing a short-term, high-value deal that would allow him to return to the market sooner rather than later.

While that dollar figure per year is less than what free-agent-to-be Justin Upton will likely command next offseason, it is still a substantial sum of money to commit to a player who has never taken a swing in professional baseball.

Surely the Braves front office is too gun-shy to spend that wildly on an unknown player when they will be paying B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla each that much next season. And surely they still remember the bad free-agent deals given to Derek Lowe and the (similarly) unknown Kenshin Kawakami several years ago.

Committing that much money, more than 10 percent of the team’s salary, to an unknown player is not something the Braves can afford to do. Some teams can gamble like that, but the Braves should not.



The last thing the Braves need is another player who strikes out a lot. The 2011 Braves set a franchise record for strikeouts. The 2012 Braves broke that record, and the 2013 team broke it again. This year’s club came just 16 strikeouts short of setting yet another new record.

Though the 2012 and 2013 squads made the playoffs while striking out a ton, those same bad habits led to epic collapses in 2011 and 2014. The Braves need to move away from that “swing for the fences or strike out trying” approach.

One of the big knocks on Tomas has been his propensity to strikeout. Since he hasn’t played against professional talent for any extended period of time, we don’t know how pronounced his whiff problem might be, but scouting reports paint a grim picture.

Here is what Baseball America’s Ben Badler had to say about the swing of Tomas (subscription required):

Tomas can hit towering home runs but it comes from an uppercut swing, which can be fine for a power hitter but also creates a swing plane with holes. That leads to swing-and-miss tendencies even in the strike zone, and Tomas’ penchant for chasing pitches off the plate only exacerbates that problem. The power arms on the U.S. college national team gave Tomas all sorts of trouble with mid-90s velocity, especially high and tight.

He has also shown—against Team USA, in the WBC and in Cuba—that he’s susceptible to swinging through offspeed pitches, both in the zone and off the plate.

If college pitchers are giving Tomas “all sorts of trouble,” imagine how the vaunted pitching staffs of the National League East will carve him up.

While Badler quotes a scout as saying Tomas will probably be a .260 hitter with 25-30 home runs, there is no mention of how much he might strike out.



If the Braves are itching to sign a slugger to a long-term deal, then they need not look any further than their own roster. Justin Upton is a slugger with power (who also happens to strike out a lot), and unlike Tomas, the Braves have the benefit of having seen what kind of player he is for the past two years.  

The unknowns with Yasmani Tomas are too great to take a risk. Much of his power comes from his big body. According to Badler, Tomas is listed at 6’1″, 230 pounds but was as heavy as 250 pounds last year.

While he is said to still possess athleticism in his thick frame, is that the type of player a team should give a huge contract? Badler puts it best when he calls Tomas “arguably the riskiest Cuban player yet to hit the open market.” This is a bad way for the Braves to tie-up a lot of money while they are trying to rebuild their major league team and their minor league system.

While I have focused on the possible negative outcomes, there is also the possibility that Tomas could exceed his projections and become a first-division All-Star for many years. But for my money, and the Braves’ money, I wouldn’t take the risk. This team simply cannot put that much money at stake for a gamble.


All stats used for this article come from

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