For much of the offseason, it’s been assumed by many that the Phillies signing Yasmany Tomas was all but inevitable. Self-proclaimed “rebuilding” teams aren’t often the highest bidders for free agents, but Tomas, as you may have heard, is not your typical free agent. MLB players reach free agency after six years of service time at the major league level and, consequently, it’s exceedingly rare to see players younger than age 28 hit the market. As a result, teams generally expect to return value upfront on lengthy free agent deals while taking a hit as the player declines for the later portion of the contract. Tomas, just 24 years old, is an entirely different commodity.
An international free agent out of Cuba, Tomas ideally represents the reverse contract situation of most free agents. He is presumably more akin to a top tier MLB-ready prospect that may (or may not) struggle at first, but could develop into his peak for the later years of what figures to be a 5-7 year contract. If, as Pat Gillick suggested, the Phillies do no project to contend until 2017 or 2018 at the earliest, the comparatively older Max Scherzer and Hanley Ramirez free agents of the world wouldn’t figure into their long range plan, but Tomas, a young corner outfielder with power, could be exactly what they need.