That’s not where anyone expected him to go.
The Nationals announced Tuesday that they’ve acquired outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash from the Reds for outfielder Bill Rhinehart and left-hander Chris Manno.
Even though the Nationals are 49-52, leaving them nine games back of the Braves in the wild card and 15 games behind the Phillies in the NL East, they’re picking up an outfielder who is set to become a free agent at season’s end. Gomes is a useful player with his ability to smack lefties around, and he’ll be a nice fit as a platoon partner for Laynce Nix in left field for the next couple of months. Whether that really does the Nationals any good or not is debatable.
In return, the Reds get a 26-year-old Double-A outfielder and a 22-year-old low-A-ball reliever. Both players have terrific numbers this year; Rhinehart is hitting .283/.376/.587 with 21 homers and 59 RBI in 276 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg, while Manno has a 1.04 ERA and a 69/15 K/BB ratio in 43 1/3 innings for low-A Hagerstown. Still, neither is considered a very legitimate prospect. Manno has the better chance of surfacing in the majors someday.
The bigger news for the Reds is that Gomes’ departure has resulted in Yonder Alonso’s arrival, as the former first-round pick was called up today. Alonso, a natural first baseman, hit .296/.374/.486 with 12 homers while playing mostly left field for Triple-A Louisville. A left-handed hitter, he’ll likely share time with the right-handed Chris Heisey in left field, leaving Fred Lewis to take a backseat.
Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.
The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.
Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.