Jonny Gomes was traded to the Nationals in late July and probably hasn’t hit enough to make them want to re-sign him, but for his part the 30-year-old outfielder would love to be back in Washington next season.
And not just because of the money or the city, but because as Gomes told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post he thinks the Nationals are ready to make leap to contending:
I think this team is going to be friggin’ good. I don’t really think it’s going to be a sleeper, either. I think everyone knows, from guys I’ve talked to on the other teams that we’ve played, from what I’ve seen. I’ve seen a little taste of the farm system coming up. I definitely want to be a part of it, absolutely.
It’d be easy to make a joke about a 30-year-old mediocre outfielder talking about staying with a sub-.500 team because they’re ready to contend, but I actually agree with Gomes … sort of. I’m not sure that the Nationals will be quite ready to contend next season, but I’d bet on them finishing above .500 for the first time since they were the Expos in 2003 and by 2013 it wouldn’t surprise me if they made a legitimate playoff run.
Of course, how Gomes might fit into that mix remains unclear. He’s batted just .209 with 14 homers and a .714 OPS this season, which isn’t acceptable production from a poor defensive corner outfielder. As a Type B free agent Gomes would fetch a supplemental first-round draft pick for the Nationals if they offer him arbitration and he declines to sign elsewhere, except Gomes indicated to Kilgore that he’d likely accept the offer and essentially lock the team into a one-year deal for around $2 million.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.