When the Houston Astros acquired outfielder Carlos Gomez from the Milwaukee Brewers last year, they envisioned him being the missing piece to a World Series title. Now, Gomez’s production is what has been missing. He is hitting just barely above .200 this season with no power. His hallmark outstanding defense in center field has also gone missing.
Despite Gomez’s horrendous season, it still shocked many when news broke yesterday that the Astros designated the two-time All-Star for assignment. Gomez’s future with the team now appears to be over, as the Astros will have ten days to try and trade Gomez, before he can refuse his designation and become a free agent. Whichever way you digest it, Gomez has played his last game as a member of the Astros’ organization.
“This has nothing to do with Carlos’ effort,” General Manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters. “The situation didn’t work out here for whatever reason the way he wanted it to and we wanted it to.”
That reason was Gomez’s struggles at the plate. When Gomez was traded to Houston, he hit .242 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 41 games played in 2015. This year it got even worse as his batting average sat at a career-low .210 to go with an on-base percentage of just .272, also a career worst. Manager A.J. Hinch tried all options with Gomez to try and get him going, as we even saw Gomez bat as low as eighth in the order to alleviate some of the pressure he would have by hitting towards the top of the order.
Gomez told MLB.com that it was “no secret” he was not doing his job, and Gomez was “disappointed” in his performance with the team over the past year.
For what this means for the Astros is that they are going to simply move on from Gomez and continue their quest for a postseason berth. Luhnow also added that the performance of late by Jake Marisnick made Gomez more expendable.
Gomez’s struggles at the plate could not be more obvious, but he still deserves an opportunity to help a team make a push into the postseason. Teams that missed out on an outfielder at the non-waiver trade deadline should strongly consider adding Gomez for the next few months. The Cleveland Indians and the Baltimore Orioles are two teams that can benefit by at least exploring the possibility of signing Gomez. Both teams have quality veteran leadership in their clubhouses, and should be able to bring the somewhat mercurial outfielder along slowly. It will not take much to acquire Gomez, and it seems likely a contender will be aggressive and attempt to trade for him rather than wait for him to become a free agent.
Gomez’s passion and effort level for the game are undeniable, often seeing him fall to one knee when he swings. A motivated Gomez could be the difference in him playing like his old self. He is only 30 years old, and in a contract year, Gomez has every reason to step it up the remainder of this season. The qualifying offer is going to be approximately $17 million, and a year ago, it seemed to be a given that Gomez would receive it, but now that won’t happen. A $100-million long-term deal also seemed to be in the cards when Gomez was making All-Star teams. Now, he will be lucky to get more than $5 million on a one-year deal.
The last year must have been extremely difficult for Gomez, but it does not come often for teams to get themselves a 30-year-old former All-Star. Despite all the negativity surrounding Gomez, it would not be wise to bet against him, which is why he should be signed for the home stretch.