The vacancy in left field has been the primary discussion topic for Yankee fans lately, and Brian Cashman added fuel to the fire today by telling Pete Caldera that the roster is nearly set. He also told Chad Jennings that he is currently searching for a right-handed bat for the outfield, but desires a bench-type player. If these statements are more than a smokescreen and actually true, I believe Jonny Gomes makes the most sense for the Yankees.
More importantly, Gomes makes sense from a financial standpoint. The outfielder made less than $1 million with the Reds last season on a split-level contract and averaged a sub-million annual salary prior to 2009. Despite having the best year of his career since 2005 he will likely cost the Yankees less than $3 million. Affordability aside, Gomes could serve as and offensive upgrade over the speedy Brett Gardner.
Gomes would bring additional right-handed power to the Yankee lineup and (or) bench and could platoon nicely with Gardner thanks to his newfound ability to hit lefties. According to anonymous sources, he’s easy to get along with and likely would not cause problems in the clubhouse. More importantly, he could ease the burden on the fragile Nick Johnson by spending time as the designated hitter.
As I mentioned earlier, Gomes is appealing because of his affordability, but his improvements at the plate are another reason the Yankees should bring him into the fold.Aside from posting a career high .274 ISO, Gomes also increased his groundball and line drive percentages while lowering the amount of fly balls hit. This suggests that he’s both improving his approach at the plate and maturing as a hitter. If you take a gander at his advanced statistics, you’ll notice he’s improved his approach against breaking pitches as well. As a right-handed power hitter, Gomes could put up solid numbers in the homer-haven that is Yankee Stadium.
The only knock against Gomes is his fielding, but statistics show that his defense has improved in left field over the past three seasons, as noted by the first positive UZR in his career. Regardless of his defensive shortcomings, Gomes’ arm would be an improvement over Johnny Damon‘s. Damon had six assists in 134 games last season. Gomes had five in only 71 games.
There are plenty of other options on the market, including the aforementioned Damon. Who do you think the Yankees should sign?