Jonny Gomes Rumors

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.

Mets Notes: Roessler, Mayberry, Blanks, Gomes

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.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Gomes, White Sox

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.

Non-Tender Notes: Wood, Beckham, Mets

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.

Free Agent Notes: Kaneko, Shields, Gomes, Willingham, Hunter

Though not available to MLB clubs at present, righty Chihiro Kaneko could become a virtual free agent (in the same manner as Masahiro Tanaka last year) if he is posted by the Orix Buffaloes. The 31-year-old has signed on with agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman, according to a tweet from Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal.

  • While we wait to see whether Kaneko shakes up the market, let’s look at the latest of one top arm who is already free to sign with any club. The Marlins still have ongoing interest in James Shields, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, Rosenthal writes that the Diamondbacks at least like Shields, though it remains from clear that the club will be able to clear the salary it needs to make a legitimate run at him. As these reports would indicate, and Rosenthal notes, the market is quiet right now for the veteran righty.
  • The Cubs are among five teams to have shown legitimate interest in outfielder Jonny Gomes, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter links). The right-handed-hitting Gomes, 33, will surely market himself as a bench or platoon bat in the corner outfield. Though he had a rather rough go of things in 2014, he still managed a .743 OPS against lefties.
  • Fellow lefty-masher Josh Willingham has yet to decide whether he’ll play, agent Matt Sosnick tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Willingham, 35, will surely be intrigued by the possibility of entering a market that just paid Michael Cuddyer $21MM over two years (along with the sacrifice of draft compensation).
  • As we continue ticking through the veteran outfielders, the Royals and Twins are the clubs most aggressively courting outfielder Torii Hunter, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. That comes as little surprise, as those AL Central rivals have long been said to be competitors for Hunter, whose market is now wide open with the Tigers saying they do not expect to bring him back.