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Jonny Gomes Rumors
Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts. With the opening month of the 2015 season almost in the books, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest…
- Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances. (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.) Utley has received 81 PA while playing in 21 of the Phillies’ first 22 games, so he is well on the way to having his option vest despite a very rough start — only a .398 OPS and two homers this season, thanks to an incredibly low .102 BABIP. There is little chance the Phils would let Utley walk for nothing this winter, especially when they could obtain something for him in a trade this summer if Utley agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
- Jonathan Papelbon: The Phillies closer’s 2016 vesting option is one of the reasons why he hasn’t yet been traded, as other teams have been wary about acquiring a reliever with such a potentially large price tag. Papelbon’s $13MM vests if he finishes 55 games this season, or posts a combined 100 games finished between 2014-15. The stopper finished 52 games last year and has seven finishes thus far in 2015, putting him on pace for that guaranteed salary next year.
- David Ortiz: If Ortiz makes at least 425 PA and passes a physical after the season, Boston’s $10MM team option on his services for 2016 will become guaranteed at $11MM (or more, depending on how many plate appearances Ortiz makes). Ortiz has only had less than 425 PA in two of the last 14 seasons, so barring any injury setbacks for Big Papi, this one seems like a safe bet to vest.
- Joaquin Benoit: The Padres hold an $8MM team option on Benoit for 2016, but the righty can turn that into a guaranteed option if he finishes at least 55 games this season. Benoit’s chances are pretty remote, as he was relegated to setup man duties after San Diego acquired Craig Kimbrel.
- Marlon Byrd: His original two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies included an $8MM club option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 600 PA this season, or a total of 1100 PA over 2014-15 with at least 550 PA this season. Byrd received 637 PA last season and he has 74 PA over 20 games with the Reds in 2015. He should continue to get regular playing time for Cincinnati though Byrd is off to a slow start — a .441 OPS with no walks and 24 strikeouts.
- Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option, though little is known about the option’s value or specifics.
- Nori Aoki: The Giants’ $5.5MM club option on Aoki for 2016 will become a mutual option if Aoki reaches 550 PA. The outfielder is hitting well and his 102 PA currently leads the league, so he’s well ahead of the pace to vest his option.
- Jonny Gomes: The Braves outfielder can guaranteed another year on his contract (at a $3MM salary) if he makes 325 PA, and he can unlock higher salaries at the 425 PA and 500 PA plateaus. Gomes has thus far received 47 PA over 15 games, putting him in decent shape for at least the first level of his vesting option.
We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest. The Phillies southpaw is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery and is currently on the 60-day DL. Dodgers reliever Brandon League is also recovering from a right shoulder injury and thus stands virtually no chance of reaching the games-finished totals required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Boston Red Sox | Brandon League | Chase Utley | Cincinnati Reds | David Ortiz | Joaquin Benoit | Jonathan Papelbon | Jonny Gomes | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Norichika Aoki | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Santiago Casilla
JAN. 23: Brown reports that Gomes’ option can vest at three different amounts, depending on his playing time (Twitter link). The option will vest at $3MM upon reaching 325 plate appearances, $3.5MM if he reaches 425 PAs and $4MM if Gomes reaches 500 PAs.
JAN. 22, 9:03pm: Gomes will earn $4MM in 2015, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link). The 2016 vesting option is worth $3MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets, and it will become a club option if it fails to vest.
7:20pm: The Braves have reached agreement with free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes on a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2016, Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports (Twitter links). Gomes is represented by the MVP Sports Group.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported on Tuesday that Atlanta was interested in Gomes as a platoon option in left field, likely as a partner for Zoilo Almonte. The right-handed hitting Gomes has an outstanding .861 OPS over 1494 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching, including a .276/.373/.371 slash line in 204 PA against southpaws in 2014. Gomes hit .234/.327/.330 overall last season over 321 with the Red Sox and A’s, going to Oakland along with Jon Lester in the trade deadline blockbuster that also saw Yoenis Cespedes go to Boston.
Gomes is the latest new piece to join a revamped Braves outfield that will see his platoon with Almonte (or another left-handed hitting outfielder) replace Justin Upton in left field and Nick Markakis replace Jason Heyward in right. Gomes, 34, is also widely regarded as a strong clubhouse presence, which could be helpful in mentoring Almonte and the several other young players acquired by the Braves this winter as they’ve looked to semi-rebuild their roster.
The Mariners, Rangers, Cubs and Orioles are some of the teams also known to have shown interest in Gomes this winter. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves were worried as late as this afternoon that Gomes would end up signing with the Rangers, so Texas may indeed have been the runner-up suitor.
Gomes, 34, split the 2014 campaign between the Red Sox and Athletics, posting a combined .234/.327/.330 batting line in 321 trips to the plate. While the average and on-base percentage in that triple-slash line aren’t too far from Gomes’ career marks (.244 and .335, respectively), his slugging percentage was a full 112 points below his career rate.
Power outage notwithstanding, Gomes remained an effective weapon against left-handed pitchers in 2014, batting .276/.373/.371 in 170 plate appearances. That production, paired with a career line of .277/.376/.485 versus southpaws, does indeed seem to make him a nice platoon candidate with Almonte. Though the 25-year-old Almonte is a switch-hitter, he’s shown a significant platoon split over the past two seasons, posting an OPS below .600 as a right-handed hitter between the Majors and Minors combined. However, he did manage a seemingly solid .272/.313/.468 triple-slash with 18 homers as a left-handed hitter between Triple-A and the Yankees. He’s also a more gifted defender than Gomes and would naturally receive the bulk of the playing time in left given his side of the platoon.
Atlanta, of course, has traded an entire starting outfield this offseason, moving Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. The team now projects to have Almonte starting in left field, with B.J. Upton in center field and offseason signee Nick Markakis in right field. Gomes has had a fairly quiet offseason in terms of rumors circulating around his name, but with the majority of the starting options off the market, I’d imagine interest in his more specified skill set could increase.
Other speculative options for Atlanta in left would include free agents Ichiro Suzuki and Eric Young Jr., while the trade market could present names like Charlie Blackmon, Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable and Dayan Viciedo.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles are still the team to beat in the AL East, a largely stagnant offseason which included losing two top players. The Orioles are, in part, banking on Chris Davis having a bounce back season in his walk year and they believe healthy seasons out of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters will elevate them. More from Cafardo..
- Agent Scott Boras thinks the market for Stephen Drew will heat up in January after teams have exhausted trade possibilities for a middle infielder. Boras hinted to Cafardo that a personal issue may have contributed to his offensive decline last season, though he declined to elaborate.
- The Indians would like to trade Nick Swisher after acquiring Brandon Moss from Oakland and the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres, Brewers, and Cubs could all be possible trade partners. Swisher is owed about $30MM on his deal, however, so Cleveland might have to foot some of the bill.
- One National League GM told Cafardo that he inquired about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and was rebuffed. The Rays have Longoria under contract at $11MM this year and $11.5MM next year before his extension kicks in in 2017, running through 2023.
- Cafardo writes that Jonny Gomes could wind up with former Red Sox Jon Lester and David Ross on the Cubs to add some veteran presence to a young outfield. “He’s still an effective player. He works for a team that’s on the verge and on a team like the Cubs or Astros who need a veteran presence,” said one National League GM.
- At some point, the Phillies might have to release Ryan Howard and eat more than $60MM in salary. Still, it’s not surprising to hear that a GM told Cafardo that an American League team would scoop him up as a DH if he is free.
Free-agent-to-be Ian Desmond is focused on the upcoming season, but he would love to stay with the Nationals past 2015 if he can, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes. The Expos drafted Desmond in 2004, and he’s been with the organization ever since. “I was 18 when I signed, I had like four armpit hairs. Now I’ve got three kids,” says Desmond. “This is an organization I’ve been with a long time. Obviously I want to be here and play here, but this is a business.” Here’s more from the National League.
- The Pirates plan to play Pedro Alvarez at first base against both lefties and righties, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. “It’s going to be Pedro’s job to keep,” said manager Clint Hurdle at today’s PirateFest. That suggests that the Pirates are unlikely to hunt for a replacement for righty first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who they recently designated for assignment and then non-tendered. Brink also notes, however, that right-handed catcher Tony Sanchez will get work at first base and could potentially win a bench job, giving the Pirates an extra option in case Alvarez continues to struggle against lefties after hitting .175/.241/.263 against them last season.
- The Reds are looking for outfielders, but they haven’t shown interest in Jonny Gomes, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Gomes played with the Reds from 2009 until they traded him to the Nationals midway through the 2011 season, but it seems they aren’t interested in a reunion after he hit .234/.327/.330 in 321 plate appearances for Boston and Oakland in 2014.
Free agent infielder Rafael Furcal could be a fit for the Royals on a minor league deal thanks to his connection with GM Dayton Moore, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter). Here are some of the latest free agency rumors out of San Diego..
- Jason Grilli has multiple offers from teams in major markets but the Tigers are not one of them, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).
- The Rangers have interest in Eric Young Jr., but they may have already been outbid, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is considering bidding in the posting of Jung-ho Kang, but he’s unresolved as to whether he will, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
- The Orioles could be a landing spot for former Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- After signing Jon Lester, the Cubs are now pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes in an apparent effort to get the band back together, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
- Catcher David Ross tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that he’s not close on a deal with any club even though he has interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, D’Backs, and Padres.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alexi Ogando | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | David Ross | Detroit Tigers | Eric Young, Jr. | Jason Grilli | Jonny Gomes | Jung-ho Kang | Kansas City Royals | Newsstand | Rafael Furcal | San Diego Padres | Texas Rangers
The Orioles are looking hard for an outfielder, as they’ve been linked to Justin Upton and Marlon Byrd in trade rumors today, though they’re apparently no longer pursuing Matt Kemp. Here’s some more from Charm City…
- While the Orioles aren’t shopping Brian Matusz, the lefty reliever is apparently available for the right offer, according to the buzz MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko is hearing around the Winter Meetings. Matusz, the fourth overall pick of the 2008 draft, struggled as a starter before being converted to relief pitching in 2012 and he’s since posted solid numbers out of the bullpen. Matusz has two more years of team control and, as Kubatko notes, his value is tied to whether other clubs see him as a starter or a reliever going forward.
- A rival scout considered the O’s to be the “overwhelming favorite” to sign Delmon Young, Kubatko reports. Young was reportedly looking for a multiyear deal while the Orioles were looking to re-sign him to a one-year pact, though it has been rumored that the team could compromise by offering a one-year deal with an option. Dan Duquette met with Young’s agent today.
- The Orioles have asked about Chris Denorfia and Jonny Gomes, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports via an article and a tweet, respectively. Denorfia and Gomes check many of the same boxes as Young, as all three are veteran right-handed hitters who can play corner outfield spots, though Gomes is best suited for LF and Young will likely see more time in a DH role.
The Mets have completed their coaching staff, naming Pat Roessler as the assistant hitting coach, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. For the last 11 years, Roessler served as the Yankees director of player development. Readers may recall the Mets hired another former Yankees staffer – Kevin Long – as their hitting coach earlier in the offseason.
- John Mayberry and Kyle Blanks are on the Mets radar, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Everth Cabrera is another non-tender who could make sense, although Carig notes that’s his speculation. No deals are close. Carig further clarified that all right-handed outfield options likely remain on the table.
- One right-handed bat who isn’t on the radar is Jonny Gomes, reports Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog. Cerrone bets that GM Sandy Alderson would have to move payroll to make room for Gomes. Given his limited utility as a lefty-masher, the Mets are probably better suited targeting a recent non-tender like Mayberry or Blanks.
As we wait for word on several fast-moving free agent situations, here’s the latest out of the market:
- Outfielder Melky Cabrera is looking for a five-year deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. That is not surprising as an asking price, given that Cabrera is just 30 years of age, though it remains to be seen whether he can get that fifth year guaranteed.
- More surprising, perhaps, is that the Giants have expressed in Cabrera, per another Rosenthal tweet. While the match makes sense on paper, Cabrera left San Francisco on somewhat strained terms a few years back. But with options quickly disappearing to fill San Francisco’s void in left field, Cabrera could hold renewed appeal. Of course, San Francisco has been said to be casing a wide net in its search for upgrades, and it is not yet clear how seriously it intends to pursue Cabrera.
- The Rangers and Mariners join the previously-reported Cubs as teams to have checked in on outfielder Jonny Gomes, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. The veteran lefty-masher should have his choice of several landing spots, and will no doubt look to maximize his expected role.
- As the White Sox look to add a right-handed starter, the team is not ruling out pursuit of high-end free agents, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That includes quality arms up to and including Max Scherzer, says Heyman, who notes that Chicago remains unlikely to make the massive outlay that will be required to add the consensus best arm available. The South Siders are also exploring the trade market, of course, and are looking not only at controllable options but also a variety of veterans with just one year remaining on their deals.
Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), but for the time being, here are some news and notes from a few borderline cases around the league…
- The Cubs are expected to tender a contract to lefty Travis Wood despite the fact that is coming off a down season, reports ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. Wood, projected to earn $5.5MM in 2015, posted a 5.03 ERA in 173 2/3 innings. His command regressed (3.9 BB/9) but he did also see an uptick in strikeouts (7.6 K/9). Rogers notes that Wood could still be traded, as the Cubs did bring back a lefty to slot into the rotation in the form of Tsuyoshi Wada. Chicago is expected to pursue multiple starters on the free agent and trade markets this winter, so if they add enough in the way of upgrades, a team may be interested in taking on Wood at a reasonable price.
- The Angels will tender David Freese and pay him something in the range of his $6.3MM projection but are expected to non-tender Gordon Beckham, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times writes. However, the Halos will have interest in bringing Beckham back in a utility role on a smaller deal than the $5MM he is projected to earn. Of course, Beckham will be a free agent and can field offers from other clubs, and it’s perfectly possible that in a market that’s light on infielders, another club would offer either a larger guarantee or a starting role.
- Ruben Tejada ($1.7MM projection) is expected to be tendered a contract by the Mets, but Eric Young Jr. could be cut loose, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin. The Mets feel they can replicate Young’s production at a lower rate than his projected $2.3MM salary, but replacing Tejada may cost more than his modest projection. Rubin notes that the Mets feel Kirk Nieuewnhuis can be a serviceable fifth outfielder at a fraction of Young’s price. As for a fourth outfielder, they’ll look for a righty bat like Jonny Gomes or Ryan Ludwick. Presumably, either of them could handle left field versus lefty starters, with Michael Cuddyer shifting to first base to shield Lucas Duda from lefties.