The Phillies went from "strong contenders" to land free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas to perhaps not even making Tomas an offer. After floating out the story that the Tomas' defense was a concern, the Phillies were not even among four teams who made Tomas an offer. While Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the Phillies were "not disappointed" that they did not sign Tomas, the greater disappoint could come if the Phillies were wrong on Tomas.
The Phillies officially declared that the team was rebuilding, first by interim President Pat Gillick, and second by Amaro. But, what would the rebuild entail? Well, for one, they could trade their players for prospects. However, the market is not really such that prospects are being traded. With most executives overvaluing prospects, only Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane seems to be cashing in on this overvalue thus far. If you cannot rebuild, through trades for prospects, what is left? International free agents.
If indeed the Phillies were concerned with Tomas' defense, then why were Tomas' suitors all National League teams? The defense was not a concern for the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Arizona Diamondbacks, who ultimately came to an agreement with Tomas. By not making an offer, Amaro is really putting himself on the line. While there are good arguments to the contrary, including this one from Corinne Landrey of CrashburnAlley.com trusting the international scouts, what if they get it wrong?
The Phillies would have no trouble coming up with the $68.5 million that Tomas reportedly will receive over six seasons. Unlike other rebuilding options, such as trading ace starting pitcher Cole Hamels, all this young player would cost the Phillies is money. Since a rebuilding team no longer needs to spend near $16 million on an A.J. Burnett or a $8 million on a Marlon Byrd-type player the next couple years, there is plenty of money for Tomas.
If Tomas signed and was a bust, all he would cost them is money. If the Phillies trade Cole Hamels and only get back another Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and Juan Carlos Ramirez, the effects would be far, far worse. If Tomas was able to give them what Marlon Byrd was able to give the Phillies in 2014, they would have come out far ahead, someone to pencil into the lineup the next several years with some power from the right side.
If the Arizona Diamondbacks get All-Star output from Tomas the next several years, the Phillies and their fans will only be able to watch and weep. Amaro will not be able to withstand the criticism if the rebuild goes south, particularly if he passes up the rare opportunity for an international free agent. The Phillies will not be able to buy their way out of this with older free agents and the risk of trading Hamels is that much worse. The Phillies should have given Tomas a shot; they had nothing to lose but all to gain. Amaro's job could depend on it.