In 2012, Jonny Gomes was one of the best bargains in baseball after signing a one-year, $1 million contract to play in Oakland. After a season in which he produced 18 home runs and an . 868 OPS, Gomes landed a two-year contract to play for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.
The contract will pay Gomes $10 million over the course of the deal; more than he’s made in his career to this point.
Gomes is a dead-pull hitter and shows tremendous power versus left handed pitching. In 2012, Gomes hit 90 points higher when facing a southpaw, but still managed a respectable .714 OPS when facing right handers. He tuned lefties up for a .974 OPS.
By signing Gomes, Boston essentially decided to halt their pursuit of Cody Ross. Ross is a much better defender and can even play center in a pinch. Like Gomes, Ross is an extreme pull hitter though Gomes has more raw power. Ross clubbed 22 home runs in 130 games in Boston last year when he played on a one-year, $3 million deal.
Word is that this year, Ross is looking for three years on a contract that pays him roughly $8 million per season.
Evidently, that commitment was too great for the Red Sox, who opted to sign Gomes; a guy who might be considered a poor man’s Cody Ross.
Ross has drawn at least some level of interest from a handful of teams, but has been most often connected to the Braves and Phillies. The Tigers are also looking for a right handed hitting outfielder and could consider Ross, though a multi-year deal wouldn’t make sense for Detroit (I actually saw Gomes as a great fit in a left field platoon with the Tigers). Though he was not great when facing righties, Ross did produce a .729 OPS when facing them in 2012. He also hit lefties better than Gomes did, posting a 1.010 OPS.
Gomes will see starts in left field any time a left hander is on the mound. How often he plays versus right handers is yet to be determined, but $5 million per year is a bit much from a platoon guy. The bigger issue is that with David Ortiz entrenched as the DH, Gomes will be forced into playing defense. Not only has he not done well when asked to do so, but teams that have employed Gomes understood this and have by-and-large keep him off the field.
In eight big league seasons, Gomes has played at least 500 innings on defense only three times and just once, with Cincinnati in 2010, did he get everyday time in left field. That year, Gomes ranked as one of the worst outfielders in baseball. At Fenway, however, Gomes will have very little ground to cover. If he can learn to play the wall effectively, he can get by out there.