According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the D-Backs placed Tomas out outright waivers earlier this weekend. That means one of two things will happen:
- Another team will claim Tomas on waivers.
- Tomas will clear waivers and remain in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.
Tomas will surely clear waivers and remain with the D-Backs. He is owed $42.5 million over the next three seasons, assuming he exercises his player options for 2019 and 2020. Any team that claims Tomas on waivers would assume his contract. No team is going to do that.
The D-Backs, under the old Tony La Russa/Dave Stewart regime, signed Tomas to a six-year deal worth $68.5 million back in 2014. They initially moved the career outfielder to third base with disastrous results. Tomas eventually returned to the outfield and is a career .268/.307/.462 (98 OPS+) hitter with 48 home runs in 305 games.
Despite the league average bat, Tomas has been worth minus-2.4 WAR in those 305 games because he's a terrible defensive player and runner. Arizona never seemed to consider Tomas a potential outfield solution after losing J.D. Martinez to free agency, and at the end of spring training, he was optioned to Triple-A. Now he is being removed from the 40-man roster.
It should be noted it is not unprecedented for a team to outright a player with a big contract. The Boston Red Sox outrighted both Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig in recent years. Castillo was dropped from the 40-man roster in 2016 with approximately $50 million remaining on his contract. Craig was outrighted in 2015 with $21 million still on his deal.
In all three cases (Tomas, Castillo, Craig), the player did not have enough service time to decline the outright assignment and elect free agency. Players with at least five years of service time can elect free agency after being outrighted and keep their entire contract. Tomas, like Castillo and Craig, has to report to Triple-A once he clears waivers to continue getting paid.
Of course it is still possible Tomas will rejoin the D-Backs at some point. He could mash in Triple-A and force the team to call him up. Of they could get hammered by injuries and need another warm body. For now, the D-Backs continue to push Tomas out of the picture. They don't even consider him worth a 40-man roster spot anymore.