SAN DIEGO (AP) Chip Hale thought back to the spark Yoenis Cespedes gave the Oakland Athletics. Now Arizona's new manager is hoping Yasmany Tomas can have the same effect on the Diamondbacks.
At the first news conference of the winter meetings to discuss a player, Arizona announced Monday that it had finalized a six-year contract with the 24-year-old Cuban defector, a deal worth $68.5 million.
''This search for talent goes on for 100 years, and it was kind of limited. And now it's expanded to Latin America. Now it goes to the Pacific Rim,'' said Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, hired in May as Arizona's chief baseball officer. ''Recently Cuban players are re-emerging. You go to the old days with (Tony) Oliva and (Jose) Cardenal and (Bert) Campaneris, so you know they're playing quality baseball down there.''
Arizona said the deal was signed a day earlier in the Dominican Republic. Tomas can opt out after the 2018 season and become a free agent again.
''If he plays well, my guess would be that ownership would want to extend his contract before his opt comes,'' new Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said.
Hale, who worked with Cespedes as Oakland's bench coach, looked forward to having Tomas hit alongside Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo in his batting order as Arizona tries to rebound from a major league-worst 64-98 record.
''Pitchers are going to fear that lineup,'' he predicted.
Tomas hit .375 (6 for 16) for Cuba with two homers and five RBIs in last year's World Baseball Classic. The Diamondbacks said he hit 30 homers with 104 RBIs in 205 regular-season games for Industriales in the Cuban Serie Nacional.
He may be shifted from the outfield to the infield.
''We have to see him, put our eyes on him, both at third base and with a bat and see how he does at spring training,'' Hale said. ''We're hoping that he can break with the team.''