The Nats have signed Tomás to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, a source familiar with the transaction confirmed. The 30-year-old is scheduled to begin playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League next month, according to Cuban reporter Francys Romero, who first reported the signing.
Tomás recently became a free agent after his six-year, $68.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks expired. That deal became an albatross for Arizona, which paid him $46 million over the last three seasons despite the fact he received only six big league plate appearances.
Despite some initial success, including 31 homers in 2016, Tomás wasn’t able to stick with the Diamondbacks because of his liabilities in the field. A corner outfielder and infielder, he sports a disastrous minus-36 Defensive Runs Saved rating over his career, including a hard-to-believe minus-20 rating in the outfield in 2016.
Tomás’ defensive struggles were so bad, he finished that 2016 season with minus-0.9 WAR despite his big offensive numbers. In 309 career games, his combined WAR is minus-2.5.
In giving Tomás a shot, the Nationals might be hoping the National League decides to keep the designated hitter in 2021, a decision that looms large but hasn’t been announced by Major League Baseball yet. Either way, the non-guaranteed contract and an invitation to spring training is a low-risk move for the organization.