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Jonny Gomes Rumors
The Braves ‘fully intend’ to add a hitter before the end of the month, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Some of Rosenthal’s sources suggest the Braves are close to a trade, as David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicated yesterday.
If the Braves are indeed close to completing a trade, it isn’t for Carlos Beltran, Rosenthal writes. Hunter Pence is not Atlanta’s slugger of choice, though the Braves have expressed interest in him, B.J. Upton, Ryan Ludwick, Jonny Gomes and others.
The Braves are reluctant to overpay for a rental player and they’re uncomfortable with the Astros’ asking price for Pence. The Braves would prefer not to send Jason Heyward to the minors, though the sophomore slugger’s struggles have compounded Atlanta’s need for a bat.
The Braves have interest in Jonny Gomes, report Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Earlier this afternoon we heard that Atlanta may be nearing a deal for a right-handed bat, which Gomes is.
Fred Lewis has been getting more and more playing time in left field for the Reds, which is why Gomes is available. He's hitting just .213/.339/.408 this year overall, but he's crushing left-handed pitchers: .340/.446/.547 in 65 plate appearances.
The Reds picked up Jonny Gomes' 2011 option and declined the options for Orlando Cabrera and Aaron Harang, according to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Gomes' option is for $1.75MM, Cabrera's buyout is for $1MM (instead of a $4MM salary) and Harang's buyout is for $2MM ($12.75MM salary). As expected, the Reds exercised their 2011 for Bronson Arroyo earlier today.
Harang is an unranked free agent, but Cabrera is a Type B, so the Reds could technically obtain a draft pick if he turns down arbitration to sign elsewhere. It seems unlikely that the Reds would offer arbitration, since they turned down Cabrera's option.
After recently disclosing that the club will exercise their option on pitcher Bronson Arroyo, GM Walt Jocketty says that he "probably will" pick up Jonny Gomes' option for the 2011 season, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The outfielder's option is worth $1.75MM and costs $200K as he (easily) exceeded 350 plate appearances.
If the Reds have a change of heart and do not exercise Gomes' option, they are obligated to release him. The soon-to-be 30-year-old hit .266/.327/.431 with 18 homers in 571 plate appearances.
In addition to the aforementioned Gomes and Arroyo, the Reds also hold options on two other players. Shortstop Orlando Cabrera has a $4MM option for 2011 but we learned earlier this week that the Reds will likely decline it. They also hold a $12.5MM option on Aaron Harang but they certainly won't pick it up.
"All indications are that" Cincinnati will decline its end of the $4MM mutual option on Orlando Cabrera for 2011, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The move isn't exactly a surprise (over 80 percent of MLBTR readers polled last week thought Cabrera's option would be declined), but the Reds are interested in re-signing Cabrera at a lower price. Earlier this week, Reds GM Jocketty told WKRC Local 12 Sports Director Brad Johansen that Cabrera's option is "probably more than we want to exercise, we'll try to find a happy medium..if not, [Paul] Janish would be our SS." (Twitter link)
Cabrera could be amenable to staying since it appears as though he'd be given at least a share of the starting shortstop job and his lackluster 2010 season — a .263/.303/.354 slash line in 537 plate appearances — will make it hard to find a larger offer or regular playing time elsewhere. If the Reds pass on the option, they owe Cabrera a $1MM buyout.
Jocketty also told Sheldon that the club also has interest in Ramon Hernandez and Jonny Gomes. Hernandez is a free agent, while Cincinnati has a $1.75MM team option on Gomes. MLBTR's Luke Adams recently examined Hernandez's value on the free agent market, while MLBTR's Steve Adams did the same with Gomes yesterday.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Rhodes, 40, is coming off of a two-year, $4MM deal. The veteran turned in one of his best seasons to date, recording a 2.29 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in a career-high 69 apperances. After earning his first career All-Star nod, the lefty told the Reds that he would "love to come back". Rhodes has yet to receive an indication from the Reds one way or another.
Gomes' future is also up in the air as Cincinnati holds a $1.75MM club option on his contract. While his service time dictates that he would be arbitration-eligible this winter, Gomes' deal calls for him to be released if his option is not exercised. The soon-to-be 30-year-old didn't re-up with the Reds until just before Spring Training last year and says that he's prepared for that scenario again this year. He earned $800K in 2010 as he hit .266/.327/.431 with 18 HRs in 148 games. The Reds have until two weeks after the World Series to decide on Gomes' option but like Rhodes, the outfielder has yet to hear anything from the club.
Some non-tendered players end up performing like stars in new cities, but the best contract offer possible is sometimes the one a team doesn't make. Here's a look at five players who were non-tendered last year and impacted the 2010 pennant race:
- Matt Capps – Capps has been excellent in 24 appearances for the Twins since coming over in a deal that sent catching prospect Wilson Ramos to Washington. The Pirates non-tendered Capps last December and the Twins and Nationals profit because of Pittsburgh's decision.
- Dustin Moseley – Hey, he's pitched 60.1 innings for one of the best teams in baseball and even stepped into a starting role when Andy Pettitte went down. The Angels’ decision to non-tender Moseley isn’t necessarily one they would like to do over, but the swingman has added value for the Bronx Bombers, posting a 4.77 ERA so far.
- Jonny Gomes – The Reds non-tendered Gomes only to re-sign him later in the offseason. The left fielder has a .761 OPS and 17 homers for the playoff-bound Reds.
- Garrett Atkins – The Rockies guaranteed the combination of Melvin Mora, Jason Giambi and Miguel Olivo less than it would have cost to retain Atkins through arbitration. Instead of paying Atkins more than $7MM, GM Dan O'Dowd wisely non-tendered him and spent on other needs.
- Kelly Johnson – Omar Infante and Martin Prado have produced well, so the decision to non-tender Johnson didn't necessarily hurt the Braves. Still, we can say with confidence that this year's Braves team would have seemed much different with more of Johnson (25 homers and .860 OPS in Arizona) and less of Prado and Infante.
Jonny Gomes has already set career highs in games (126), plate appearances (482), runs (63), hits (112), doubles (22) and RBI (77). Reds manager Dusty Baker has been calling on Gomes more than ever and the left fielder has seen his slash line dip, possibly because he's facing more right-handed pitching than usual. Gomes' .262/.328/.436 line is about average, but his power has dropped off this year, especially in the second half.
The Reds can retain him for $1.75MM in 2011 or buy him out for $200K. They don't have the option of turning the option down and trying to re-sign him more cheaply through arbitration; Cincinnati must release the 29-year-old if they turn his option down. The Reds could sign Gomes after releasing him, but all 30 teams would be able to make bids, too.
Despite Gomes' struggles against right-handed pitching and less-than-brilliant defense (he posted negative UZRs every year from 2005-10), the Reds will likely have some interest in retaining him for a net cost of $1.55MM. However, they non-tendered him last winter after a season in which he hit 20 homers and posted an .879 OPS, so history suggests they aren't afraid of letting Gomes hit the open market. What do you think the Reds will do? Click here to take the survey and here to view the results.
On this date back in 1996, catcher Chris Anderson delivered a run scoring single for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the short season New York-Penn League. It was the first hit ever recorded by a member of the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization. Anderson was the team's 66th round draft pick that year, but he never made it out of A-ball and hit just .170/.236/.298 in 432 plate appearances before calling it a career in 1999. Every team starts somewhere.
Here are a few links from the baseball blogosphere…
- U.S.S. Mariner dubs the Twins as the favorites to land Cliff Lee this summer.
- Camden Chat likes the Orioles' draft haul, but thinks it could have been better.
- Bernie's Crew uses Milwaukee's roster to show that the later rounds of the draft can be productive as well.
- More Hardball looks at the bang Jonny Gomes has provided for the Reds' buck.
- Liam McGuire's Blog wonders if Adam Loewen is the second coming of Rick Ankiel.
- 1 Blue Jays Way interviewed Tom Filer, former big leaguer and current pitching coach for the Altoona Curve, Pittsburgh's Double-A affiliate.
- Baseball Opinion examines the best and worst picks of the 2005 draft.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.