When the Nationals traded for Jonny Gomes on July 26, acquiring the outfielder for a pair of minor leaguers, the move was mostly written off as the Nationals adding a spare part, an outfielder who didn't seem to fit into their future plans and whose best benefit might be that he could bring back a compensation pick if he left in free agency.
By the end of the season, that could still turn out to be the case. But early in his tenure with the Nationals, Gomes has brought more to the team than that.
He's homered in back-to-back games, and his two-run shot against the Cubs on Tuesday night was the difference in the team's 3-1 win. Gomes is hitting .320/.414/.680 in his first 10 games with the team, and even though he's batting .222 for the season, he's hit an impressive 13 homers in 243 at-bats.
Laynce Nix's ailing right Achilles tendon has also coincided with his protracted second-half slump; he's hitting .226 in his last 30 games, posting just a .671 OPS. But with Gomes there to pick up some of the slack, the Nationals' offense has continued its modest improvement. Nix and Gomes split at-bats in Cincinnati, and in reality, they're probably both best off as platoon players. It worked for the Reds, and it has a chance to get the Nationals through this year.
It's difficult to see Gomes or Nix in the Nationals' future as much more than a bat off the bench, especially with the possibility of Michael Morse going back to left field next season or Bryce Harper manning the position at some point. But for a guy who didn't look like he factored into the plans at even that level, Gomes isn't off to a bad start with the Nationals.