Posted by Steve
The Brewers made a bit of a surprise move today with an extension of center fielder Carlos Gomez, reportedly for 4 years/$27.5 million. It actually replaces his contract for this season, meaning it’s essentially a three-year extension for $24 million. Considering Gomez was entering his final year before free agency, I’m surprised the Brewers were able to get him this cheaply.
Gomez was a valuable player, even in a platoon role, the last few years–mainly because of his defense and baserunning. Last year, though, he put together an offensive season that people envisioned years ago when Gomez was a highly regarded prospect. He set career-highs in batting average (.260), on-base percentage (.305), and slugging percentage (.463). While those first two numbers aren’t all that impressive, the slugging percentage is. And when it’s combined with Gomez’s defense in a crucial position, it makes for a valuable player: His WAR of 3.5 was 11th in baseball among center fielders, and he had far fewer plate appearances than any of the others in the top ten.
Gomez is still only 27, so there is good reason to believe his performance can match, and possibly even exceed, his performance last season. He will never be a good on-base player, or even a decent one most likely. However, playing one of the most important positions makes that more palatable.
If there is anyone saying the Brewers spent too much on Gomez at $8 mil a year, I’d ask what the Brewers could have gotten for that money instead. Michael Bourn just signed for 4/$48 mil. B.J. Upton was below Gomez in WAR last year, and he just signed for 5/$75! Fangraphs had Gomez worth $9 million in 2012, and $15 million in 2013. If he’d had another year like last year in 2013, he’d probably double his value to $50 mil or so on the open market. He might earn his contract over the next four years on just defense alone.
The Brewers do have some fairly promising young outfielders coming up in Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl, and Khris Davis. None of them, however, are nearly as highly regarded as Gomez was. Davis and Gindl are really only corner outfielders, and there’s nothing wrong with using Schafer as a 4th outfielder or in a soft platoon with Gomez.
It’s kind of funny to think back to a few years ago, when the general reaction of Brewers fans to the J.J. Hardy-for-Gomez trade was disappointment. Here’s what I wrote in 2009 when the trade went down. I actually didn’t pan the trade, which I wasn’t sure of myself until I went back and looked (the most painful part of that post by far is when I mentioned Mat Gamel having a lot of trade value. Oof.). Both players have had some success since the trade, although it is interesting that Gomez got the larger contract extension.
Whether the Brewers are contenders or not, this is a good move. They have a good player signed through his prime, and it’s inexpensive enough that it will be tradeable down the road if necessary.
In honor of this contract let’s watch a couple Carlos Gomez GIFs. One flattering, one not so much, but both awesome.