With the first half of the 2014 Major League baseball season now officially in the books and players nestled snugly into their All-Star Game break, it’s time for teams to make an honest evaluation of where they stand and whether they will be buyers or sellers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. For the Cincinnati Reds, sitting just a game-and-a-half out of first place in the National League Central, the focus is clearly on turning up the heat for a playoff push. To do that, they will need an offensive bump from the anemic attack they displayed through much of the first half, and help could come in many forms. One potential solution, which wouldn’t have registered as a possibility even a month ago, is Boston Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes.
The Sawx, fresh off their third World Series title in ten years, have struggled mightily in 2014 and definitely have the look of sellers as we head toward July’s stretch run. While Boston won’t likely hold any kind of fire sale, that doesn’t mean they won’t try to shed a few extra parts and pick up some young talent as they look toward next year and beyond. While Gomes was a vital member of last season’s magic, his production has taken a hit this time around, and, at 33, he probably does not figure into the Red Sox’s future.
For the Reds, though, Gomes could be an interesting pickup on several fronts. Foremost is the fact that he brings potential pop to left field, which Cincinnati has lacked all season. Even though his numbers are down this year, Gomes has a history or .400+ slugging and double-digit homers in less than full-time roles. His return would also stir some good feelings among fans who remember the 2010 team as the squad that put the Reds back on the baseball map, and Gomes was a large part of that effort.
From a cost standpoint, Gomes would not put much of a dent in general manager Walt Jocketty’s budget, as the former Red is due about $2 million for the remainder of 2014. He will be a free agent after the season, so this could be a classic rent-a-player scenario. Because he is entering the heart of his decline years, Gomes is not likely to bring a huge return for the Red Sox in terms of talent, so he should be available for the price of a prospect or draft pick, maybe two.
The downside for the Reds is that Gomes has displayed a heavy platoon effect during his career, posting an OPS of .875 v. lefties, but only .723 when righties are on the mound. As such, he is unlikely to prove a panacea for Cincy’s offensive woes on a day-to-day basis.
In the end, Gomes is a low-risk get who could benefit from a Cincinnati reunion as his career begins to age. Given Jocketty’s stand-pat history and the Reds’ already large payroll, players like Gomes are probably the best bets for short-term offensive help that the team has.