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Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas defects

Jun 20, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT


Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that the next big-time Cuban free agent will be coming to Major League Baseball soon:

Yasmani Tomas, one of the top young power hitters in Cuba and a member of the national team, has left the island to pursue a contract with a major league team, Baseball America has learned. The Cuban newspaper Granma also confirmed that Tomas had left the country.

First he has to establish residency in another country — if he comes to the U.S. he’s subject to the draft — and jump through all of the diplomatic paperwork. The example of past Cuban defectors suggests that the process will last long enough to where Tomas is unlikely to sign until late this year or early next year.

As for the baseball: Tomas is only 23-years-old, yet has starred for the Cuban national team already and debuted in Cuba’s top league when he was only 17. He established himself as a regular in 2011, when he as 21. He hit .301/.333/.580 with 16 homers in 69 games that season and went on to play in the World Baseball Classic last year. He was 6-for-16 with two home runs, one double, one walk and four strikeouts in the WBC.

In regular season play he has been up and down of late due to some injuries, but he’s got extraordinary power. He’s primarily a corner outfielder.

  1. chill1184 - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    MOAR Cuban players!!!!

  2. dan1111 - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    I think a “sluggler” is someone who had to overcome great personal adversity to hit baseballs well.

  3. esracerx46 - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Sluggler, haha. Does Cuba even care anymore? So many guys defecting recently. Used to be one every couple of years would defect.

    According to the always reliable Wikipedia, its 13 since 2013. There was one each in 2007 and 2006, and 4 in 2005. Are guys getting more ballsy? Or what

  4. sc101071 - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Justin Upton replacement come 2016.

  5. aphillieated - Jun 20, 2014 at 10:59 AM


  6. sasquash20 - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    Phillies we need 3 OFers and he is young. So go for it. Oh and fire Amaro and the scouting and developement crews.

  7. jamesmfitzpatrick - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    The Yankees could use some power.

    Alas, no way the current Yankees brass makes huge international splashes in FA two years in a row

  8. ud1951 - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    There obviously would be much outrage if the Obama administration struck a bargain with Cuba that allowed baseball players more straightforward access to a shot in the major leagues, but there is so much outrage about pretty much anything they do, why not do this?

    I hope we don’t read more harrowing stories about guys like this absolutely risking their lives and enduring corrupt deals with drug dealers just to get a chance to play in the US.

    Perhaps the President’s team could get Cuba to allow these guys to establish residency in Venezuela, play there and then be allowed to come to the US if they can make a deal with a US team. Surely Cuba could figure out how to tax their major league salary.

    • chill1184 - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:30 AM

      Easiest way to give Cuban players and regular Cubans to come to the US is to end the embargo which is nothing but a dinosaur of the Cold War.

      • raysfan1 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        Don’t forget the persistent animosity against Fidel and Raul Castro. The embargo won’t end while they are alive. (Not saying I don’t think it should end sooner, just saying I don’t think it will.)

    • steelhammer92 - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      Our government spends enough time and money helping out people in other countries. Meanwhile, our own country is a mess.

    • tmc602014 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      ud, there are people risking there lives to mow your lawn.

  9. xpensivewinos - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    This has Red Sox written all over it. Too many hitters from Cuba have been succeeding…… way they let another one slip through their fingers, especially a young, power-hitting corner outfielder.

    • 4cornersfan - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      The Yankees are not going to let the Sox get away with that. Everybody else has their defector and we want one. I can’t stand it that the Dodgers and Oakland are ahead of us in the defector race. Casman and Steinbrenner dropped the ball on Cespedes and they are not going to let this one get away if they knows what’s good for them.

      • tmc602014 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Now you’re talking! We must close the defector gap! Why can’t we send Delta down to kidnap the rest of the Cuban team?

  10. Professor Fate - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Two years ago Cuba eased the penalties for “defectors” who wanted to return home. Now all you need is a visa (liberally issued by Latin America countries’ embassies such as Ecuador) and enough money to travel to the U.S. Estimates of Cubans utilizing this method is upwards of 10,000 a year.

    Essentially the island is easing its long-standing rules that anyone leaving illegally (pretty much everyone who did) would be permitted to return for brief visits (up to 90 days). A 1994 accord with the U.S. allows 20,000 immigration visas each year.

    Things are changing for the better, but like all political disputes it will take some time.

  11. tmc602014 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Since when did we pay attention to what Granma has to say about baseball?

  12. shutton83 - Jul 14, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Sox need to sign him, teach him how to field the monster and this could be a huge get, and we need outfield prospects.

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