Choose Your Own Adventure: Nelson Cruz or Yasmany Tomas

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.

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Eric
Guest
Eric

In general I’d prefer to have Tomas. But if my team’s window of contention was the immediate future (2015~2016), I may prefer Cruz.

Balthazar
Guest

Everything in evaluating Nelson Cruz depends on whether he was natural in 2014. I wouldn’t bet a nickel that he was. When a mid-30s guy with declining numbers previously and PED in his past turns out career numbers in an ideal park on a one-year playing for Powerball money, just what does one really expect? ‘He’s that good??’ Billy Butler is a similar body type, though a much better hitter: Butler’s 2014 is what these guy’s look like, not Nelso Cruz’s. If this, to many, disagreeable but entirely rational and utterly necessary speculation regarding Cruz is valid, the bet is that he a) stays on, and b) it doesn’t show in the flask. From where I stand, many other teams are taking that bet, and some are hitting three cherries on their signs pulling on that lever. One man’s view, throw rocks at the pixels where I was standing if you wish.

I’m anything but sold on Tomas, but I’d prefer to bet on youth and lower total payout if forced to choose between the two. I’d far rather do a deal for Stephen Souza than touch either of these guys, but that wasn’t the choice presented, either to me or to most teams looking to acquire talent.

Catoblepas
Guest
Catoblepas

You can think that someone had an outlier year without concluding they had chemical assistance.

Emcee Peepants
Guest
Emcee Peepants

Also, it wasn’t that much of an outlier, really, except in terms of staying healthy, which is likely because he was only asked to play the field for 71 games as an Oriole. They signed Cruz for HRs – in his full seasons prior to 2014, he hit a HR every 19.04 PAs, in 2014 he hit one every 16.95. If he had homered at his career rate in the same 678 PAs in 2014, he would have ended up with 36 HRs instead of 40. That seems like pretty weak evidence to suggest he was on PEDs in 2014, especially after already being caught. I don’t love the deal either (but I get it), I just disagree with the PED outlier argument more.

Blueyays
Member
Member
Blueyays

The thing is, even if he stoped jucing after being caughth, the effect of his past steroid use would still have lingered and affected last year. Muscles that you’ve built up over years don’t suddenly disappear when you stop taking steroids. It’ll be a very long and gradual loss of strength from that, and so while he probably was aided last year from steroids, that could be despite the fact that he’s stopped taking them.