Last Thursday, the Diamondbacks signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six year, $68 million contract that included an opt-out after the fourth year. While scouting reports suggest that Tomas appears to be a somewhat one-dimensional slugger, the power is apparently near the top of the scale, and one dimensional sluggers who can hit the ball 450 feet with regularity can still be quite valuable. And teams are certainly paying for right-handed power this winter.
This morning, the Mariners reportedly agreed to sign Nelson Cruz to a four year, $57 million contract. Like Tomas, Cruz is something of a one-dimensional slugger, offering significant power from the right side but doing little else to help a team win. Unlike Tomas, though, Cruz has a pretty solid MLB track record of success, including hitting 40 home runs in Baltimore last year; he hasn’t hit fewer than 24 homers in a season since 2008, when he played in just 31 games.
Tomas is 24, so the Diamondbacks signed him for his prime years. Cruz is 34, so the Mariners signed him for his decline years. Tomas is a bit of a lottery ticket, though, and could end up being nothing more than Dayan Viciedo, while Cruz seems to have a significantly lower chance of being completely worthless in 2015. Tomas probably has a bit more upside, given his age, but there’s significantly more variance in his expected production than there is with a guy like Cruz.
Over the next four years, the Mariners will pay Cruz $57 million. Over the same time period, the Diamondbacks will likely pay Tomas $35-$45 million, depending on how heavily they backloaded the contract, and then Tomas will have the option to become a free agent again. We should assume that he’ll exercise that option unless he’s either badly injured or kind of terrible, so from the Diamondbacks perspective, their deal with Tomas is only for four years if he turns out to be as good as they hope.
Based on these facts, I’m curious which player and which contract you might prefer. To that end, a couple of polls.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.