Yasmany Tomas of the Arizona Diamondbacks takes early batting practice prior to a spring training game against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 12, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder and corner infielder Yasmany Tomas will play for Cuba in the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador, El Salvador this month.
Cuban Baseball Digest writer Yusseff Diaz reported Thursday that Tomas would play in the event.
Tomas will be eligible to play for Cuba at the Central American and Caribbean Games once he suits up in the upcoming days to play in the Serie Nacional for his hometown team, the Industriales de La Habana. Tomas took live batting practice at Estadio Latino Americano on Wednesday.
Tomas has been on a winding road through professional baseball after being released by the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, the top affiliate of the Washington Nationals, in November 2021. He made a mark in Mexico last winter with Caneros de Los Mochis out of the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico.
Tomas won the LAMP Most Valuable Player Award during the 2022-23 winter league season, playing in 66 games with 287 plate appearances and hitting .328 with 85 hits, 17 doubles, 10 home runs, 25 walks, and 57 RBI, helping Caneros de Los Mochis reach their third Caribbean Series and fourth league championship title.
During Tomas’s Major League career, he batted .266 with 48 home runs and 163 RBI with the Diamondbacks.
Tomas hit the radar for Major League Baseball scouts during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where he was 6-for-16, batting .375 with two home runs, five RBI, and one walk in six games for Cuba. He left the island in 2014, and the same year, he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for six years and $68.5 million.
After not playing the World Baseball Classic in March, Tomas could possibly fill a big hole left by Alfredo Despaigne, who has returned to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball circuit.
The 2023 San Salvador Central American Games baseball event will run from June 24 to July 1 at Parque De Pelota Saturnino Bengoa. Cuba is ranked No. 7 in the World Baseball Rankings. The other seven nations participating in the Central American and Caribbean Games are World No. 32 Curacao, No. 11 Puerto Rico, No. 3 Mexico, the host nation, 59th ranked El Salvador, No. 17 Nicaragua, the 10th ranked Dominican Republic, and No. 6 Venezuela.
Cuba has not won gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games since 2014 in Veracruz, Mexico, when they beat Nicaragua in the gold medal game. During the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, Cuba lost to Puerto Rico in the gold medal game.
Cuba will be allowed to bring players from their Serie Nacional spring-summer league, as well as the Cuban Elite League, which played its first season during the 2022-23 winter league season, as well as some international free agents and players who are not affiliated with a Major League Baseball organization or professional independent leagues in the United States.
Cuba will have a similar coaching staff to the one they brought to the 2023 World Baseball Classic, where they finished in fourth place, appearing in the semifinals against the United States and losing 14-2 at loanDepot Park in Miami. Cuba will have manager Armando Johnson, bench coach German Mesa, and pitching coach Pedro Lazo return to the coaching staff for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games.