Reviewing Hart’s Trades: Gomes for Valenzeula

Reviewing Hart’s Trades: Gomes for Valenzeula

The Braves have been active in John Hart‘s first season at the helm to the tune of SIXTEEN TRADES! Sixteen deals involving major league talent going one direction or in both. Sixteen deals that include over 50 different players, a few draft picks, lots of cash, and two Uptons. It’s been friggin unreal to see what the Braves have done.

With most of the season in our rear view, it’s time to start reviewing each one of these trades. This series is going take a little while to get through, but hey, it gives me something to write about.

Trades Already Reviewed
La Stella for Vizcaino
Heyward/Walden for Miller/Jenkins
Varvaro for Kurcz
J. Upton for Jace Peterson and prospects
Carp/Shreve for Banuelos
Kubitza/Hyatt for Sanchez
Gattis for Foltynewicz and Ruiz
Hale for Briceno
Elander for Cahill and Lots of Cash
The Craig Kimbrel Trade
Callaspo for Uribe
Gosselin for Touki
KJ/Uribe for Whalen/Gant
The Hector Olivera Trade
CJ for Bourn/Swish

The Trade
Johnny Gomes and about $380K to the Royals for Luis Valenzuela.

The Rationale

Gomes had been added before the season as a platoon/bench option, something he had historically been very successful at. The problem was that the Braves never really had a left-handed bat to platoon with him. Zoilo Almonte failed to make the team, Kelly Johnson was needed elsewhere, and Eric Young Jr. completely bombed. That left the Braves with Gomes getting the most starts in left field – 48. Perhaps had KJ stayed healthy and played more left field or had Eury Perez and Todd Cunningham produced, it would have helped. For his part, Gomes was pretty good. He hit just .240, but walked frequently and hit 5 of his 7 homers against lefties, giving him a .857 OPS against lefties.

However, there was no reason to keep Gomes for the whole season. The Braves were going nowhere and Gomes retained value as a lefty masher/clubhouse presence. The Braves tried to send him packing before the trading deadline, but nobody offered enough for them to make the deal. That was pretty good because it gave us a chance to watch Gomes pitch in late-August.

The Royals, meanwhile, were looking for a bat down the stretch to give them an alternative to Alex Rios, who sucked most of the season. Paulo Orlando wasn’t doing much better, either. Adding Gomes was a smart addition and it cost them precious little. Luis Valenzuela hadn’t flashed on anyone’s prospects lists and with good reason.

Short-Term Results
Gomes would only play in 12 games, mostly as a right fielder, for the Royals. He had just five hits in 30 at-bats, which didn’t influence the Royals to keep him on their playoff roster. Still, Gomes remained the great cheerleader and clubhouse presence he is known for. Plus, he does a great wrestling promo.

Valenzuela only played in a half-dozen games after the trade with Rome and nearly doubled the number of hits Gomes had (9-for-21, 2B, HR. Overall, Valenzuela hit over .340 in A-ball this season, which should garner some attention, though he only played in 62 overall games (including 8 games at rookie).

Long-Term Outlook
The Royals won the World Championship and in this trade, were forced to give up precious little. How much Gomes helped them win is a complete mystery considering he did precious little on the field, but having Gomes around is, as we grew to know, an absolute joy. He didn’t have Eric Hinske‘s timely hits, but it was hard not to feel the same thing about Gomes that we felt about Hinske. He enters free agency weeks before his 35th birthday looking for another team seeking a platoon guy with 162 career homeruns.

Valenzuela will get a chance to repeat his success from 2015. He had played precious little in 2012-13 before slashing .259/.306/.370 in 2014. On the high end, he’s probably Pedro Ciriaco with less speed. On the low end, he’s…I dunno…Tyler Pastornicky-lite?


Gomes was terrible. He struck out once out of every three times at bat and looked like he was carrying an anchor on his back when he tried to cover the outfield or run the basepaths. He was not a joy to watch; he was an embarrassment. For the Royals – they won despite his striking out 50 percent of the time! I'm glad that Gomes is gone from the Braves. In the worst season in Braves recent history, Gomes was just one more millstone.

Valenzuela posted a .343 / .372 /.490 slash line between his two A ball teams. If my research is correct, the average is second for all Braves minor leaguers, and the slugging percentage is first. Maybe not such a bad trade.

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