Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes

Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes
November 21, 2012, 5:28 pm
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For dramatic impact, it pales in comparison to the last Thanksgiving surprise the Red Sox pulled, when they made a deal for Curt Schilling nine years ago.
It lacks the star power of, say, landing Torii Hunter or a bigger name on the free agent market.
But agreeing to terms with Jonny Gomes on a two-year, 10 million deal, as the Red Sox did on Wednesday, while hardly a blockbuster, can be as one of those small, first steps every bad team must make as it crawls from the wreckage of a 93-loss season.
Think of Gomes as this year's version of Cody Ross -- affordable, somewhat limited, but potentially valuable.
Like Ross, Gomes mashes lefthanded pitching. He had a career-best .974 OPS against lefties last year and sports a career OPS of 894 against them.
Like Ross, he has power, with 18 homers in just 279 at-bats.
And like Ross, Gomes is considered a positive clubhouse presence, with a strong, fun personality.
Unlike Ross, he can be a patient hitter. He had a .377 on-base percentage a year ago, and for a lineup that saw too few pitches and, for a change, showed little discipline, that quality represents an upgrade.
He also comes to the Red Sox as a relative bargain. His 5 million salary in 2013 will be 40 percent more than the Sox paid Ross last year, but it's still a modest figure.
What's more, the two-year commitment won't block any of the outfielders whom the Sox expect to be ready to contribute in 2014, including Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley Jr.
If those two are ready, Gomes can be a moderately-priced fourth outfielder, or perhaps, part of some DH platoon with David Ortiz, who will be 38 by then.
It's clear that the Sox are determined not to tie themselves to any extended deals, with an eye toward the minor league development system that they hope will provide the nucleus for what general manager Ben Cherington constantly refers to as the "next great Red Sox team.''
For now, it's difficult to presume what Gomes's exact role will be. The Red Sox understand his defensive limitations and he almost certainly will not be entrusted with playing spacious right field in Fenway.
But he can handle left field, and could be used in a platoon with either Daniel Nava or Ryan Kalish.
It's best to wait, however, before truly evaluating the signing of Gomes. If the Sox sign another signficant free agent -- or make a deal for another outfielder -- Gomes will be viewed for what he is: a solid, complementary player.
As for Ross himself, a baseball source said Wednesday night that the Sox do not rule out re-signing Ross. But an aggressive market for Ross has developed, with interest from the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves -- among others -- meaning Ross will likely get a three-year commitment from some team.
The Sox are reluctant to go that long, both because they don't want to block the likes of Brentz and Bradley, but also because, they're understandably wary of getting tied into long commitments for players in their mid-30s. They need only look back to Mike Lowell, who found his career essentially finished at 36.