Jonny Gomes is now part of the 2015 playoff race.
The Atlanta Braves completed a two-player trade that sent the veteran outfielder to the Kansas City Royals, owners of the second-best record in baseball, in exchange for shortstop prospect Luis Valenzuela, the team announced on Monday night.
Gomes played in his 83rd game of the season on Monday before being replaced before the sixth inning by teammate Nick Swisher. Signed as a free agent in the offseason to solidify a left-field platoon for Atlanta, Gomes struggled to perform for long stretches -- he's en route to his second straight season of sub-replacement level play.
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The longtime American Leaguer is hitting .221/.325/.364 with seven home runs in 228 plate apperances.
However, it's clear where the Royals see value in the acquisition. Despite his overall numbers, Gomes has continued to hit left-handed pitching well. He's posted a .412 on-base percentage and 144 weighted runs created plus -- well above league average -- against southpaws in 2015. That specialized skill could come in handy for a team that is making a World Series push and has the added benefit of the designated hitter spot in the lineup.
(Also relevant for Kansas City: Gomes is 97 plate appearances shy of hitting his $3 million vesting option for 2016.)
In return, the Braves continue to add to an ever-improving farm system. Valenzuela, a 22-year-old infielder from the Dominican Republic, has torched minor-league pitching in rookie and Single-A ball this season, leading the South Atlantic League with a .339 batting average entering Monday's action. Originally a Red Sox signee, Valenzuela is one of the few position prospects Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has acquired via trade.
Valenzuela will be assigned to Single-A Rome.