Red Sox finalize two-year deal with Gomes

By Ian Browne /12/01/12 12:00 PM ET

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have strengthened their outfield by signing veteran slugger Jonny Gomes to a two-year, $10 million contract that was officially announced on Saturday.
The deal was agreed upon before Thanksgiving but was still pending a physical.
"I see him playing a lot of left field -- we think his bat fits well in the lineup, in the ballpark," Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on Saturday morning at Fenway Park. "We did a lot of work on him, and he's developed a really good reputation as a leader in the clubhouse, a guy that can mentor young players and make an influence. He plays with an edge and he's used to the AL East, so we just felt like it's a good fit, all the way around."
The team is still working to re-sign Cody Ross, a popular run producer who was one of the few bright spots on the 2012 team.
It remains to be seen how much playing time Gomes will get. One thing is clear -- he will play against all left-handers.
"We expect him to play a lot," Cherington said. "Exactly how many at-bats it ends up being, that's up to [manager] John [Farrell] and I guess up to Jonny, to some degree -- how he performs. He'll have an opportunity to play a lot. We see him as an important part of the team."
The right-handed-hitting Gomes batted .299 (49-for-164) against lefties in 2012 with 11 home runs, tying for ninth in the American League. All 10 of his doubles came against lefties.
Gomes had a .413 on-base percentage against southpaws and a .974 on-base plus slugging percentage.
"He's had opportunities where he has handled right-handers well," Cherington said. "We think the ballpark is a good fit for him. He's a grinder, he's an intense competitor. We'll see. Matchups aren't always all about left-right; sometimes there are certain pitchers that a guy's a good fit with and others who they aren't. Those things are up to [Farrell] and the staff to figure out. Jonny's a guy we felt just fits well on a number of fronts -- from a personality standpoint, from an ability standpoint. It's what we're trying to do."
Gomes is noted for having a positive clubhouse influence, something that will make him a good fit for a Red Sox team that is trying to improve its culture.
"He was one of the guys we wanted to focus on going into the offseason," Cherington said. "You never know which ball falls first. There was a lot of competition for him early. It's just one of those things where his market sped up early, so we got on that quickly, similar to Ross. There was no particular reason why it happened that way, but that's the way it unfolded."
Gomes has topped 500 at-bats just once in his career, back in 2010 as a member of the Reds.
Last year, he helped the surprising Oakland Athletics reach the postseason by batting .262 with 18 homers, 47 RBIs and a .377 on-base percentage in 333 plate appearances.
Over his 10-year career, the 32-year-old Gomes is a .244 hitter with 136 homers, 411 RBIs and a .790 OPS. Gomes broke in with the Rays, for whom he played from 2003-08. He played for the Reds for 2 1/2 seasons before finishing the '11 season with the Nationals.
The Athletics signed Gomes to a one-year deal on Jan. 26.