The Cody Ross era in Boston appears over. The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Jonny Gomes on a two-year deal that’s worth $10 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
The $5 million annual salary is four times more than Gomes has ever earned before. He made $1 million while hitting .262/.377/.491 in his lone season with the A’s.
The Red Sox are paying a steep price for a guy who belongs on the bad side of a platoon. Gomes has hit .284/.382/.512 against lefties and .223/.307/.425 against righties in his career. That line against righties isn’t so bad, but considering that Gomes is a subpar defender, he’s a poor option as a full-time player.
It’s hard to imagine the Red Sox now re-signing Ross. The two are essentially the same hitter; Ross has come in at .284/.353/.575 hitter against lefties and .253/.312/.415 against righties in his career. Ross is the clearly superior defender and thus is a better option as a starter against righties. However, he was believed to be asking for something in the neighborhood of $24 million for three years.
Gomes will join Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Ryan Kalish and Jerry Sands in the mix for corner outfield at-bats in Boston. Ideally, Kalish, the biggest talent in the bunch, would step up and claim the right field job, at least against righties.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.