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Tomas' agent, Amaro 'still talking'

Free-agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas could command $100 million, and the Phillies say they want to be involved in the discussions.

Cuba's rightfielder Yasmany Tomas is a much sought-after prospect.
Cuba's rightfielder Yasmany Tomas is a much sought-after prospect.Read moreAssociated Press

PHOENIX - Ruben Amaro Jr.'s flight into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport touched down early Sunday evening. Before noon yesterday, he had already had a private meeting with the agent for Cuban free-agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas.

"Still talking," Jay Alou, Tomas' agent, said afterward. "Still talking."

Tomas, perhaps the biggest bat on the free-agent market, has been linked to the Phillies for obvious reasons. The Cuban defector is a home-run-hitting corner outfielder; with poor production from their current outfield, and almost no help coming any time soon from the farm system, the Phillies are in desperate need for a young, power-hitting outfielder.

Many prognosticators have labeled the Phillies as favorites because of those factors, and the fact that they have the financial wherewithal to consummate a deal. But as of yesterday afternoon, no formal offer had been made by the Phillies.

"We continue to speak," Alou said. "I know they have things in-house they want to take care of. We've been talking. I respect Ruben a lot and he respects me."

Later in the day, Amaro continued his policy of not commenting on individual free agents.

"I'm not going to talk about anybody specific, so we can change the subject," the embattled Phillies general manager said when Tomas' name was mentioned for the first time. "We've seen all the guys. We've been pretty proactive in scouting all of them."

According to Alou, the Phillies have seen Tomas in person three times: at a formal, open workout for all interested parties in September; then two other times, including when Amaro flew to the Dominican Republic, where the Phillies had their own private workout with Tomas in late September.

Alou characterized the overall negotiations between his client and major league teams as "slower than I thought, but steady."

With the success of other Cuban free-agent hitters in recent years - including Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig - Tomas is expected to capitalize on the open market. Several reports have estimated the price tag could reach $100 million.

Last winter, the White Sox nabbed Abreu, who won American League Rookie of the Year honors yesterday, on a 6-year, $68 million deal. In August, the Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a 7-year, $72.5 million deal.

Tomas is 3 years younger than Castillo, and unlike Castillo, his top skill set is power, not speed.

"I really don't know where that came from," Alou said of $100 million rumors. "But, hey, I'd be happy. He'd be happy, I'd be happy."

Is that his worth, though?

"I say, whatever a team is willing to pay is what a guy is worth," Alou said. "You can't put a price tag on . . . you can put a price tag on a cell phone or a Mercedes. There's no price tag on him."

Amaro, not speaking specifically about Tomas, but about the free-agent market in general, said it was a little "silly" to compare current free agents to success stories from their home countries. Read: Just because Puig is an All-Star doesn't guarantee that Tomas will be one.

"It's all individuals," Amaro said. "Just because one guy did well signed from one country doesn't necessarily mean the next guy is going to do well. It doesn't mean the guys before or or after that are going to do well. It's all individual. We'll try to scout the players and try to project them in a way that you feel necessary and go from there. I don't think - it's like saying, 'This Dominican player played real well one time so we've got to sign Dominican players.' It's ridiculous."

While continuing to speak with Alou in the coming weeks, Amaro is taking advantage of the next 2 days for more "face-to-face dialogue" with other general managers. The veteran-laden Phillies, coming off their third straight non-winning season, are in sell-mode, and surely will be gauging interest for what players like Marlon Byrd and Jonathan Papelbon could bring in trades.

In a perfect world, Amaro would find a taker for Ryan Howard (while eating a majority of the salary). He'll listen on Cole Hamels.

"We had a lot of really good dialogue prior to these meetings," Amaro said. "During the course of the trade deadline we had a lot of good discussions and dialogues and sometimes you can move those things forward. We've continued that since the season's been over."

Amaro has said that there are no untouchables on his roster, although he wants to practice patience with his current young core.

"We know about the Chase Utleys and the Rollinses and those guys - they are very good major league players, but we also have some kids that are coming and kids that are here," Amaro said. "[Cody] Asche, and, for whatever reason, [Domonic] Brown is getting hammered I guess publicly, but he has ability. The man hit 27 home runs. He did not have a great year last year, but it sometimes takes time for a guy to develop.

"We have to be open-minded as far as those guys are concerned. [Ben] Revere had a very good year and it really kind of depends on their continued development. We have to give those guys opportunities. It's not 1 or 2 years that you find out what kind of major league player someone is. You can have a pretty good idea, but it gives you an opportunity. We have to give these young guys opportunities to see if we want to build our club around this group of guys."

Tomas is the rare free agent who would fit right into that mold: He doesn't turn 24 until next week. He's younger than Asche, Brown, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez, three players continuing to develop in Phillies uniforms, and just 22 months older than Maikel Franco.

Alou wouldn't comment on whether other teams have made formal offers to his client. But he does expect an official offer from the Phillies before long.

"I mean, they owe it to the fans, right?" Alou said. "It's going to all get going here soon."

And then Alou let his mind wander and did what agents do best: He began to sell his client to all of the ears of Philadelphia willing to listen yesterday afternoon in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel.

"There are a lot of hitters who, to generate power, they've got to pull the ball," he said. "They've got to open their hips to generate power. He's so powerful he can afford to just let the ball travel deep. And then, when he hits them, no matter whether it's to rightfield or centerfield. He punishes them.

"I haven't seen anyone - and I represent Jose Bautista, he hits a lot of home runs - I've never seen anybody hit a ball this far. [Tomas] is actually taking batting practice in a big old stadium in the Dominican, where teams from the [Santo Domingo] play. It's a big stadium. It's 411 [feet] to center. And he was hitting the big screen above the centerfield wall."

So you're talking Giancarlo Stanton-type theatrics?

Alou didn't answer verbally. Instead his eyes grew wide and he gave a confident, affirmative nod.

"Yasmany is working on things," Alou said earlier in the conversation. "He's very methodical. Working on his swing. Working on things. He's a perfectionist when it comes to that. He had had some swing-and-miss tendencies, which he has now corrected. Right now, maybe in the last 2 weeks, the way he's progressed is unbelievable. He's really not missing anything right now."