Jonny Gomes Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: GMs, Castro, Gomes, Hosmer

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com looks in depth at the still-developing front office market. There’s “no evidence” that the Mariners went after Dave Dombrowski, he says, and it remains entirely unclear what Seattle will look to do over the next several months. Likewise, there are a number of dugout swaps that could go down, per Heyman, who says as many as ten skippers are “on the hot seat.”

The piece is loaded with analysis and notes, but here are some of the most notable bits of hot stove information:

  • Cubs infielder Starlin Castro was placed on trade waivers recently, though it’s not yet known whether he’s cleared. Castro has shifted to a utility role for Chicago and is still owed $38MM, but is obviously a significant talent and is just 25 years old. While the Cubs now seem determined to go with Addison Russell at short in the near term and the long term, an August trade of Castro still seems unlikely.
  • Braves outfielder Jonny Gomes has cleared waivers and can freely be dealt. He’s playing on a $4MM salary this year and can be controlled in 2016 through a $3MM option. The 34-year-old doesn’t have a terribly impressive overall batting line, and has seen his power output drop, but is still slashing .231/.409/.385 against opposing lefties.
  • The Royals are “starting to think about” approaching Eric Hosmer to discuss an extension. He is already signed to a $8.25MM salary next year, and has one more year of arb control thereafter. Buying up additional years will not be easy or cheap for Kansas City: Hosmer is in the midst of a breakout .315/.379/.484 campaign, is just 25 years old, and is a client of Scott Boras.

NL East Notes: Mets, Wheeler, Bour, Capps, Braves

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon family (the team’s owners), who have drawn plenty of fan and media ire for payroll constraints and a lack of spending in recent years, deserve credit for acting like a big-market team at the trade deadline this year, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Wilpons didn’t merely pocket the extra money they could’ve saved from the insurance on David Wright‘s contract and the unexpected salary they recouped from Jenrry Mejia‘s suspension but authorized Alderson to spend $8.5MM to bring in Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard. Alderson, too, deserves credit for his willingness to part with a very good prospect (Michael Fulmer) in an effort to win immediately, as well as his persistence in trade talks after the Carlos Gomez deal fell through, he continues. Sherman adds that Mets fans reminded ownership and the front office just how important those decisions were with a raucous crowd as the team swept the Nationals this weekend and created a dead heat in the NL East.

More on the Mets and their division…

  • Speaking to Newsday’s Marc Carig, Zack Wheeler elaborated on his reported phone call to Alderson in which he expressed a strong desire to remain with the Mets as opposed to going elsewhere via trade. “I told him I know it’s a business and he has a job to do, but I’d really like to be here because of what’s about to happen,” said Wheeler. “I’ve been here a couple of years and want to see it through.” Wheeler told Carig that while he knew such a tactic was uncommon, he felt it was the best way to communicate a desire to “stay and be part of this team’s winning future.” Alderson told Carig that in all of his years as an executive, he’d never seen a player make a call of this nature, and the move had “quite an impact.”
  • With Mike Morse now traded, the Marlins will give Justin Bour every opportunity to stick at first base, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Hitting .254/.333/.445 with 10 homers in 234 plate appearances, the 27-year-old Bour is a rare example of a player selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft that will have a chance to make a significant impact on his new team’s organization. Miami picked up Bour in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft.
  • Jackson adds that despite a number of rumors pertaining to fireballing setup man Carter Capps on Friday, the Marlins never came particularly close to trading him. President of baseball operations Michael Hill called Capps a “a championship-caliber piece under team control” when speaking to Jackson.
  • Braves veterans Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski find themselves in an unusual position, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Each is a veteran on a cheap one-year deal that remained with his rebuilding team as opposed to being moved at the trade deadline. Gomes recognizes that he could still change teams in August but praised the work that president of baseball operations John Hart has done in restocking the farm and rebuilding the big league roster. Bowman writes that for now, the Braves’ hope is that both Pierzynski and Gomes spend another few weeks mentoring some of the team’s young talent. He also notes that at some point in the next couple of months, the Braves may simply have to cut bait on Chris Johnson and release him, but they’ll take the month of August to continue their longstanding effort to shed a portion of the remaining $20MM or so on his contract.

2016 Vesting Options Midseason Update

Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts.  As we enter the All-Star break, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest.  All stats are current heading into today’s action…

  • 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, of course, is on the DL right now recovering from an ankle injury and will be out until late July or early August.  Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has openly stated that Cesar Hernandez has earned the everyday second base job, leaving Utley’s playing time in question for the remainder of the season.  Utley is suffering through by far the worst season of his 13-year career with only a .179/.257/.275 slash line and four homers through his 249 plate appearances.  If Utley isn’t back until early August, he’d be hard-pressed to reach 500 PA even in the increasingly unlikely event that he plays every day.
  • Jonathan Papelbon: This Phillie‘s march towards his vesting option is going much more smoothly.  His $13MM option for 2016 vests if he either finishes 55 games this year, or finishes 100 games combined between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  Papelbon finished 52 games last year and has 29 finishes this season, so collecting those last 19 finishes over roughly two and a half months shouldn’t be difficult for the closer if he stays healthy.  There’s a chance Papelbon could ask for his option to be guaranteed to facilitate a trade, yet he sounds so eager to get out of Philadelphia and pitch for a contender that he may not bother and instead bet on himself to finish those 19 games.
  • David Ortiz: Big Papi has 340 plate appearances, making him a virtual lock to reach the 425 PA he’ll need (plus passing an offseason physical) for his 2016 option to vest.  Ortiz will earn at least $11MM in 2016, plus more depending on how many PA past the 425-mark he ends up recording this season.
  • Joaquin Benoit: With only seven games finished, Benoit has no shot at the 55 games finished he’s need to turn the Padres‘ $8MM club option into a guarantee for 2016.
  • Marlon Byrd: If Byrd has 600 PA this season, or at least 550 PA this season and 1100 PA total between 2014-15, the $8MM club option on his 2016 services will become guaranteed.  A DL stint limited Byrd to 262 PA thus far, so it’ll be difficult for Byrd to reach the 550 PA mark unless he stays healthy and the Reds play him virtually every day.
  • Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option. MLBTR has learned that Casilla’s 2016 option will vest at $6.5MM with 55 games finished during the 2015 season. Casilla’s option could have vested at $7.5MM with 100 games finished between the 2014-15 seasons, including 55 in 2015. The option could also have vested at $8.5MM with 150 games finished from 2013-15, including 55 finished in 2015.
  • Nori Aoki: The outfielder was one of the league leaders in plate appearances when he fractured his right fibula, so he already has 291 of the 550 PA he needs to turn the Giants‘ $5.5MM option for 2016 into a mutual option.  If Aoki returns around July 24 (as Bruce Bochy estimates) and resumes his everyday spot atop San Francisco’s lineup, he stands a good chance of reaching the vesting point.
  • Jonny Gomes: If Gomes receives 325 PA, his $3MM option for 2016 will become guaranteed.  He’s just over halfway there with 166 plate appearances, so this one may come right down to the wire.

We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest, as the Phillies southpaw hasn’t pitched all season and is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery.  Brandon League also hasn’t pitched this season and has been released by the Dodgers, so he won’t reach the games-finished total required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.



2016 Vesting Options Update

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.


Braves To Sign Jonny Gomes

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.


Braves Pursuing Jonny Gomes

The Braves are pursuing free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes as a potential platoon option in left field that could pair with Zoilo Almonte, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

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 BlackmonAllen Craig, Shane Victorino, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable and Dayan Viciedo.


Cafardo On Drew, Swisher, Longoria, Gomes

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.

NL Notes: Desmond, Alvarez, Gomes

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 Rumors: Furcal, Grilli, Young, Mets

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.

Orioles Notes: Matusz, Young, Denorfia, Gomes

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.