Jonny Gomes is a 34-year-old platoon player with a .216 batting average and .686 OPS.
But Gomes is a player who’s built an impeccable reputation for leadership on playoff-bound teams, and a guy who can still do plenty of damage against left-handed pitchers, evident by his five homers, .417 on-base percentage and .472 slugging percentage in 72 at-bats against lefties.
And so, there are at least one or two postseason-contending teams that have expressed an interest in trading for Gomes before midnight Monday, the deadline for players to be on a team’s roster in order to be eligible for the postseason.
“I’ve pretty much learned to control what you can control,” Gomes said before Friday’s series opener against the Yankees. “And if you can stick to it, you’ll be in a good place. Because as much as, if I wanted to stay or I wanted to go, it’s irrelevant what I want. I’m an in-between-the-lines guy, a player, a guy that wears the uni.”
Gomes also has been on a recent uptick, going 6-for-20 with three homers and seven RBIs in his past 11 games before Friday, including four starts and the rest pinch-hit appearances.
Teams have also expressed interest in other Braves including veteran catcher A.J. Pierzysnki, but the Braves might prefer to keep him for the influence he continues to have on young pitchers and rookie catcher Christian Bethancourt, now that Bethancourt is back from Triple-A. They are leaning toward trying to re-sign Pieryznksi for 2016.
Gomes signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Braves last winter, which includes a $3 million vesting option for 2016. Since the options vests with 325 plate appearances this season, and he has only 223 entering Friday with 45 games left – he starts almost exclusively against left-handers — it’s highly unlikely it will vest, and instead would become a simple club option for the Braves to pick up or pass on without any buyout.
That’s if he’s not traded in the next few days, of course. He’s a leader in the Braves clubhouse, but if they can get something of value in return, they might find it hard to pass up.
Gomes has been through this sort of thing before, having been traded from Boston to Oakland last season on July 31, the non-waiver trade deadline. He was traded from the Reds to the Nationals on July 26, 2011.
He’s never been traded during the waiver period after July 31, but knows it could happen if the third-place Braves, who were 54-73 and 17 games out of first place before Friday, get an offer they deem suitable. Any player traded after July 31 has to either clear waivers or be traded to a team that places a waiver claim on the player. Gomes has cleared waivers.
“Those are things you learn in your career,” Gomes said. “You learn that when you have (minor league) options, you might get sent down or get called up. Can’t worry about those things. Then you have your arbitration and your free agency. I think I’ve got it all checked off by now to realize, as much energy as you put into (worrying about) that, you’re not getting it back. So you don’t worry about it.”
Someone mentioned that at least it’s a positive that other teams have an interest in trading for him.
“It goes both ways,” Gomes said. “I guess it’s positive when your name does come up. But at the same time, if a team keeps you, it says enough there, too – your team wants you.”
Does that mean he would prefer to stay with the Braves?
“Yeah,” Gomes said. “I signed here to win here and stay here. I didn’t sign here to get traded out of here. I understand the business. I got traded from a team (the Red Sox) right after we won the World Series, you know? So I understand the business. Again, worry about in-between the lines.”
But given his druthers, Gomes said, he would like to stay with the Braves — for the rest of this season and beyond. He wants to see the rebuilding effort come to fruition.
“Yeah, come back next year, get to see these guys you got in trades,” he said. “Come back the following year, open up that new ballpark (in 2017). I mean, I’m one-track mind, and that’s the Atlanta Braves right now.”
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