Last Monday, as the Oakland Athletics wrapped up their four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, Jonny Gomes, a key member of the 2012 Al West winning club, was sitting directly behind home plate at the Rogers Centre.
The veteran outfielder/DH was at the game with a couple of his Boston Red Sox teammates, with the club set to open up a series with the Blue Jays the next day. Players like Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss, who bantered with the 32-year-old throughout the game, were happy to have the slugger back for the day.
Based on the production of the outfielders in general, and the reserves in particular, the club might not mind having the veteran back all the time.
Last winter Gomes was signed away by the Red Sox, who offered substantially more than the Oakland club. This year with Boston, Gomes is hitting .238 with 10 home runs and a .774 OPS. The right-handed hitter has five home runs against righties and lefties each, so he’s a useful bat in any number of roles.
However, if the Athletics were to have held onto Gomes it wouldn’t have been because of his on field production only, but also due to his influence in the clubhouse. Gomes was named the 2012 Cat Fish Hunter Award winner in his lone season with the club, and seems to be universally respected by his teammates and the coaching staff. The award is given to the player who exemplifies the conduct off the field and the play on it, of the Hall of Fame pitcher.
Manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com: “He’s such a great resource, not only for the players, but for myself and the coaching staff.”
Had the team retained Gomes, he would occupy one of the spots filled by Chris Young or Seth Smith. The Red Sox ended up getting Gomes on a two-year, $10 million deal, while Smith earns $3.76 million in 2013 and Young takes home $8.5 million.
If anything, GM Billy Beane probably thought he was upgrading his outfield by bringing in Young. Plus, it’s hard to commit a two-year deal to a part-time guy.
As the team looks up at the Texas Rangers in the AL West standings, though, Gomes sure would be a nice “resource” to have around.