The Royals traded a minor leaguer most prospect hounds didn’t even know much about and got cash back from the Braves last night.  Oh, and Jonny Gomes, too.  While minor in scale, this is a big boy trade.  One we are used to seeing from the big market teams as they stock their bench for the post-season.  Your Kansas City Royals are stocking their bench for the post-season….in August. Savor that for a while.

Here is what you need to know about Jonny Gomes:

  • He destroys left-handed pitching.  For his career, Jonny has a .275/.378/.483 triple slash against southpaws and a 133 wRC+.   With the possible exception of Ben Zobrist, Gomes is probably the best hitter against lefties on the Royals roster right now.
  • Gomes swings and misses a fair portion of the time (27% career strikeout rate), but he walks as well (10.4% career walk rate) and has gotten better at working the base on balls late in his career, posting a walk rate above 12% in three of the last five seasons.
  • He cannot field.  You can put him in left (4033 career innings) or in right (1173 career innings) and pick whatever defensive metric you want and it all comes out with a negative sign in front of the number.
  • By all accounts, Jonny is helluva a guy in person and in the clubhouse.  Some discount chemistry almost completely, some agonize over it way too much. Whatever your position on the issue, most agree the Royals have a ‘good’ clubhouse right now and nothing in Gomes reputation would seem to be a flag that he would do anything to disrupt that.

 

Did I mention Jonny Gomes is not a good defender?
It is September 1 and Alex Gordon is coming back.  Alex Rios is kinda sorta a little hot.  Lorenzo Cain is tremendous.  Jarrod Dyson can more than hold his own against right handed pitching.  Paulo Orlando has gotten some big hits (although let’s all remember the guy has a .260 on-base percentage).  So where does Jonny Gomes fit?
I will tell you where Jonny Gomes fits:  on the playoff roster of a really good team, coming off the bench against a left-hander.  Quite frankly, and this will seem like blasphemy to a fan base that was willing to live with Omar Infante’s noodle bat for two-thirds of a season because he plays good – not great – defense, you might see Gomes starting in right field against a lefty.  His bat might be good enough to live with six or seven innings of bad defense in right, at least on occasion.
We all know that Ned Yost does not pinch hit very much and one of the big issues is the guys you would consider pinch hitting for in a close game are also the guys you want playing defense in a close game.  Do you bring in Gomes for Moustakas against a LOOGY and sacrifice the defense at third?  Would he even consider pinch hitting for Alcides Escobar?  Will the Royals stick with Alex Rios in right or are they at last willing to run with a Dyson/Gomes platoon?
Given that the Royals gave up virtually nothing to get Gomes, if the only meaningful at-bats he gets are in a National League park as a pinch hitter in the World Series, this move was still worth it. That is how far the Kansas City Royals have come: they added a proven twelve year veteran to their bench whose only contributions might be a handful of at-bats in a post-season series the team is six weeks away from even qualifying for.  I like this version of the Kansas City Royals, my friends.