Outfielder Jonny Gomes has been with the Nationals for only two months, but that’s been enough time to convince him he wants to play in Washington for at least another season. Gomes, whom the Nationals acquired in a late-July trade, is eligible for free agency this offseason, and he hopes to return.
“I think this team is going to be friggin’ good,” Gomes said. “I don’t really think it’s going to be a sleeper, either. I think everyone knows, from guys I’ve talked to on the team other team that we’ve played, from what I’ve seen. I’ve seen a little taste of the farm system coming up. I definitely want to be a part of it, absolutely.”
The decision might be his. Gomes, 30, is projected to be a Type B free agent, which means the Nationals would receive a second-round compensatory draft pick if they offer him salary arbitration and he turns it down to sign with another team. The Nationals, then, will be motivated to offer him arbitration.
“That’s always a plan for when we talk about acquiring players, if you have the added benefit of a compensation pick,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said in July after acquiring Gomes. “It could translate into a nice, solid draft pick for us. That’s always part of the plan.”
Gomes tries to consciously ignore contract matters, preferring to yield to his agent. But his first instinct would be to accept an arbitration offer from the Nationals should they extend one.
“I’ll probably take it,” Gomes said.
Gomes hit .209/.325/.389 in 372 plate appearances this season with the Reds and Nationals. He has hit a home run once every 20.1 at-bats in his career, which in theory gives Manager Davey Johnson the kind powerful bat he likes off the bench. Gomes, though, has been dreadful pinch-hitting. As a pinch hitter this season, Gomes has gone a hard-to-fathom 0 for 28 with 17 strikeouts and five walks.
The Nationals have made improving the quality and depth of their outfield a priority.
The Nationals will also have to make decisions on outfielders Laynce Nix and Rick Ankiel.
“We’re certainly discussing internally who, how many and which players we want to bring back,” Rizzo said. “They’ve all performed admirably for us. They played hard. They played admirably for us. And they’re terrific guys in the clubhouse. There’s not one of them that we wouldn’t want on the team next year. But they’re going to have options after the season because all three of them in my mind have had good solid seasons. We’ll see after the year. The bench is certainly one of the things we need to address.”