BOSTON — Jonny Gomes isn’t the most talented player available on the free agent market, but he is widely regarded as being among the most personable.
For the reloading Red Sox, that’s an important quality.
And so, on the eve of Thanksgiving, the Red Sox reportedly signed Gomes to a two-year contract worth $10 million.
Likewise, the role for Gomes remained unclear. A part-time player for most of his 10-year career, Gomes plays both left field and right field, though his defense isn’t particularly good. But his right-handed swing and pull power could make him a good fit at Fenway Park.
Perhaps Gomes’ most attractive trait is his leadership and charisma. He’s known as a positive clubhouse presence, something that has been lacking for the Red Sox for the past two seasons.
Gomes, who turned 32 on Thanksgiving, enjoyed something of a career revival last season with the Oakland Athletics, batting .262 with 18 homers, 47 RBI and a career-high .377 on-base percentage in 333 plate appearances. He signed a one-year, $1 million deal with Oakland last winter.
Overall, Gomes is a career .244 hitter with a .334 on-base percentage, .455 slugging percentage, 136 homers and 411 RBI with four teams. He spent six seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays before bouncing among three teams (Cincinnati, Washington and Oakland) over the past two years.
Gomes has gotten at least 400 at-bats in a season only once, in 2010 with the Reds. Thus, there’s a strong possibility the Red Sox could utilize him in a platoon with a left-handed-hitting outfielder such as Ryan Kalish or even switch-hitting Daniel Nava, who had far better splits this season from the left side of the plate (.269/.383/.414 compared to .185/.280/.333 as a right-handed hitter).
The addition of Gomes wouldn’t preclude the Red Sox from adding other outfielders, including potentially re-signing Cody Ross. In fact, general manager Ben Cherington has said numerous times that the club is in the market for a pair of everyday outfielders to flank center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
RED SOX NOTEBOOK: C Mike Napoli, a free agent seeking a four-year deal, met with the Red Sox in Boston on Nov. 24, multiple media outlets reported. The Mariners and his 2012 team, the Rangers, are the other teams believed to be interested in signing Napoli. Napoli previously met with the Mariners, and he has a meeting scheduled with the Rangers for the last week of November, according to Sirius/XM. Napoli, 31, hit .227 with 24 homers in 2012.
— C David Ross signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal with the Red Sox on Nov. 14, and the effects are still being felt on the roster. The Red Sox already control the rights to C Jarrod Saltalamacchia and C Ryan Lavarnway, although the addition of Ross has prompted speculation that one of the incumbent catchers may be traded. Then, before the Nov. 20 deadline, the Red Sox added C Daniel Butler to their 40-man roster, thereby protecting him from exposure to next month’s Rule 5 draft and assuring them of having catching depth in Triple-A if either Saltalamacchia or Lavarnway is traded. One thing is certain: Ross figures in the team’s plans. He’s known for being one of the best backup catchers in the majors, a reputation that continued this year when he threw out 42.4 percent of attempted base stealers in 47 starts for the Atlanta Braves. “The way they pursued me and the things they told me, ‘We want you to play more than you have been playing, but we don’t want you to be the starter. Just be a good part of this team.’ That’s kind of all they said,” Ross told MLB Network Radio. “There wasn’t a whole lot of high expectations or anything like that; they just said they wanted me for me.”