— David O’Brien (@DOBrienAJC) January 21, 2015
Well that’s great news. DOB notes the “huge cost” and says the team doesn’t want to drain its international signing budget. My guess is that Liberty is tightening the belt due to declining attendance that’s likely to crater in 2015. Until the new stadium opens, and maybe after, the Braves are officially a “small market” club, even if they aren’t.
Need proof? Look no further then next year’s outfield, which may include Jonny Gomes, a journeyman who would likely platoon with Zolio Almonte. A Yankees farmhand for 9 years, Almonte should not be mistaken for a prospect. His minor league numbers (.268 BA, .330 OBP, .433 slugging percentage — in line with his 2014 production in Triple-A) don’t excite, and he’s not much on contact, either, striking out 105 times in 105 games.
We’re told Almonte is solid defensively; Gomes isn’t even adequate. The 34-year-old journeyman has become more selective at the plate as his power has diminished, though he he still hits lefties well. He didn’t hit anyone last year, especially after he was dealt to Oakland, where he had a .491 slugging percentage in 2012. Last year, in 64 AB with the A’s, he managed but one extra base hit.
When I heard about the interest in Gomes I immediately thought of Roenicke, a right-handed slugger who came to the Braves in 1987 after spending several years as part of a LF platoon in Baltimore. Like Gomes, he was coming off a year in which his power dried up. For the Braves, Roenicke hit .219 with 9 HR and 28 RBI in 151 AB. He was released the following year.
There are other candidates, including Todd Cunningham, your quintessential 4-A player, Jose Constanza, ditto, and Joey Terdoslavich, who regressed in Triple-A last year. Oh, and there’s Cuban import Dion Toscano, who’s barely played the last two years.
Forget about Ichiro — the Braves are not interested, says DOB.