Whenever an international free agent becomes available, there are ordinarily many clamoring for him because he’s something new. This clamor starts before anyone has read a scouting report or seen the player in action.
Aug 3, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baseball bats ready for use rest in the Colorado Rockies dugout before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
This was the case for Jose Abreu, who 29 of 30 teams missed out on, and who is now beating the hell out of baseballs for the White Sox on a nightly basis.
When it comes to the Mets and international free agents, there are two recent Cuban defectors who fans want to see the team go after: outfielders Yasmani Tomas and Rusney Castillo.
If the Mets enter the Cuban market, it should be for Tomas, not Castillo.
The case against Rusney Castillo:
Prior to his latest showcase, many scouts thought that the 27-year-old Castillo profiled either as a fourth outfielder or perhaps a steady center fielder who wouldn’t hit for much power.
However, scouts have updated their reports on Castillo due to the fact that his physique improved, and many now believe he has the ability to hit for power in the majors.
Still, according to Baseball America, Rajai Davis, who was a league-average player during his peak, is the safest comparison for Castillo. If Castillo’s new power translates to game action, he could be Davis with a bit more pop.
That’s certainly worth something, but that’s not the type of player the Mets need at the moment.
With Juan Lagares – arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball – entrenched in center field, the Mets should be going in a different direction than Castillo – a player whose value lies as a center fielder.
The case for Yasmani Tomas:
Unlike Castillo, there are no questions surrounding Tomas’ power potential.
The 23-year-old corner outfielder has 70-grade power which translates in games to look something like this:
According to Baseball America, Tomas is still a bit raw. However, he’s the type of player the Mets should be going after.
Tomas is four years younger than Castillo, has prolific power, and would slide into a position of need as a corner outfielder.