The Kansas City Royals shored up the last glaring mini-hole in their lineup tonight, trading minor-league infielder Luis Valenzuela to the Atlanta Braves for lefty-mashing corner outfielder Jonny Gomes. Ken Rosenthal broke the news with this curt tweet:
Gomes to #Royals.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 1, 2015
Time must have been of the essence. Jon Heyman added these two tweets in his punctuation-averse way to flesh out the deal:
gomes goes to royals with cash for a minor-league infielder @Ken_Rosenthal 1st— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) September 1, 2015
braves get young infielder valenzuela in gomes deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) September 1, 2015
How much cash comes Kansas City's way is anyone's guess. It's probably less than Meche money.
While Gomes's utility will be limited, the Royals as constructed did not have much in the way of a right-handed bench bat. Gomes's history coming up through the ranks of the St. Petersburg Devil Rays should silence any who wondered if he was gritty enough for this team. He weathered parts of six seasons from the far-off Russian outpost, kowtowing to the whims of Vladimir Putin before leaving Mother Russia for another communist outpost, albeit one in the Ohio River Valley.
Politics aside, Gomes should help the Royals down the home stretch and into their probable berth into the postseason, where his particular set of skills is likely to land him on the 25-man roster for their postseason run.
Hoping that Ned Yost and the Royals do as much of the Royals' fanbase would prefer and turn to a Jarrod Dyson/Jonny Gomes platoon--jettisoning Alexis Rios in the process--is probably wishful thinking. What can be said with certainty is that there is no way Ned Yost can bring in Scott Downs to face the inevitable pinch-hitter waiting in the wings Jonny Gomes.
Tonight Gomes went around the dugout shaking the hands of his teammates in Atlanta. Along with whatever belongings and office supplies he was able to gather from the clubhouse on his way out the door, he will bring a career line of .275/.379/.484 with a .374 wOBA and 133 wRC+ versus left-handed pitching. In 2015, he has enjoyed an even more impressive slash of .249/.412/.466 with a .382 wOBA and 144 wRC+ against southpaws. The term lefty-masher may as well have been invented for him.
If Gomes were to reach 325 plate appearances this season, he does have a vesting option for 2016 worth $3.0MM. He currently sits 97 shy of that mark, and in his role it is unlikely that he reaches that in Kansas City (h/t to BHWick).
As for Luis Valenzuela--the prospect headed to Atlanta--the middle-infielder logged most of his time at short this season for the Lexington Legends, Kansas City's low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League. With eight games in Rookie ball factored into his season's line, the barely-22-year-old Valenzuela played 55 games with 221 plate appearances slashing .364/.385/.502. He has just 184 plate appearances above a rookie-level. In his career in the low minors, he hit .291/.330/.410 while spending about 60% of his time at second base.
Nearly all of his playing time was accrued over the past two seasons, totaling 112 of his 126 career affiliated games. In the past two years, he stroked 19 doubles, eight triples, and six homers while successfully stealing on 14 of 16 attempts. His 22 walks to his 75 strikeouts do not speak to a batter who possesses the patience at the plate.
Originally signed and released by the Boston Red Sox while still playing in the Dominican Summer League over a few short months in the early part of the 2012 season, the Royals signed the Dominican to a minor-league deal at the ripe old age of 19 after the 2012 season. Given his lack of pedigree and age relative to level, it's hard to imagine that a scenario in which the cost of Valenzuela ends up being a high one despite his robust line in the Sally League, but anything is possible.