Free Agent Stock Watch: Jonny Gomes

The Reds hold a $1.75MM option on Jonny Gomes, and he'd like to return to Cincinnati, but as last year showed us, there's no guarantee that the team retains the 29-year-old left fielder. He was non-tendered following a more productive 2009 season, so it's entirely possible that Gomes hits the market once again. In a recent poll, MLBTR readers were split fairly evenly on whether or not the Reds would retain Gomes (58% said yes). Let's take a closer look at Gomes, now that his season is over:

The Good

  • Gomes has always crushed left-handed pitching. For his career, he owns a .276/.371/.507 line against southpaws.
  • Gomes is affordable. He signed for just an $800K base salary in 2010, though he did make an additional $500K in incentives due to exceeding 500 plate appearances. A team seriously interested in Gomes could have him for a couple million dollars at the most, and there's probably no need to commit multiple years.
  • At age 29 (30 in November), Gomes isn't likely to be in line for a sharp decline.
  • He's always been prone to strikeouts (career 30.2%), but this season that number dropped to a more respectable 24.1%. He also posted his highest line drive percentage (20.7%) since 2007.

The Bad

  • For as tough as he is on left-handed pitching, Gomes is rather pedestrian against right-handers. His .233/.309/.438 line isn't going to bring fear to the hearts of same-handed pitchers, but he does homer once every 20 PAs against them.
  • Defensively, Gomes is no wizard. Primarily a left fielder, he's only posted a positive UZR one time at the position; he rated slightly above average in 2009's small sample, but owns a -19.0 UZR/150 there for his career.
  • Gomes cut down on his K's this season, but also posted a career-low walk rate. His mark of 6.8% is likely the result of seeing more time against right-handers, which also accounts for his overall drop in slugging.

The Verdict

If the Reds buy out Gomes' option, he has a contractual clause stating that he must be released, making him available to all 30 teams. For all his flaws, Gomes is a useful player if utilized correctly. He punishes left-handed pitching and is respectable enough against right-handers to add reasonable depth to any club's bench. His ideal role is probably as a platoon DH and backup corner outfielder. The overall drop in his numbers should keep his 2011 salary in the $1MM-$2MM range, meaning he can be an affordable source of depth to interested suitors.

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