Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Born: December 4, 1985 (Turning Age 31)
Since the 2015 Trade Deadline, it seems the New York Mets have tried to make a reunion happen with Carlos Gomez, their former amateur free agent signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2002. Gomez was on GM Sandy Alderson’s radar prior to the July 31 deadline, as the team was looking to add an impact bat for their postseason push. The proposed trade of Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers for Gomez fell through due to lingering concerns over Gomez’ hip, and of course, the rest is history, as the Mets circled back to the Detroit Tigers and pulled off a trade for Yoenis Cespedes, a trade that propelled the team all the way to the 2015 World Series.
There was talk of Gomez signing with the Mets this past season too, after he was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros in early August. The Mets ended up taking a pass on Gomez, relying on the injured Justin Ruggiano to return only to end up back on the disabled list due to a left shoulder injury at the end of August. The Texas Rangers signed Gomez to a minor league deal, with the Astros responsible for the bulk of his $9 million ’16 salary.
Gomez revived his season with the Rangers, after slashing .210/.272/.322 in 85 games with the Astros in ’16, with a 6.5% walk rate and career worst 31% strikeout percentage. He also posted negatives in DRS, UZR, and UZR/150 in 677 innings in the outfield with the Astros.
However, moving from Houston to Arlington reignited the spark plug outfielder, as he went on to play in 33 games for the AL West Champion Texas Rangers, posting a line of .284/.362/.543 with eight home runs, 18 RBI, a 139 wRC+, and a 1.2 fWAR. His defensive metrics also improved as he manned mainly left field (213 out of 275 total innings), posting a 1.3 UZR and 6.4 UZR/150. Combining his overall outfield metrics with Texas, Gomez posted a 3.7 UZR and 11.7 UZR/150, according to FanGraphs.
Gomez pointed to adjustments at the plate that aided in his turnaround with the Rangers, explaining in September that he was trying to keep the weight on his back leg, which allows him to stay back and recognize the pitch better, allowing him to drive the ball with more relative ease.
Between 2012-14, Gomez was one of the game’s premier outfielders, posting a 16.2 fWAR (4th among MLB outfielders), 111 stolen bases (2nd), 247 runs scored (12th), 18 triples (10th), and registering the 6th best UZR/150 (14.7) among all outfielders during that span. Gomez made both of his All Star appearances in 2013 and 2014, the two years he posted above an .800 OPS. Gomez also won his only Gold Glove Award in ’13, the same year he received a share of MVP votes, placing ninth in the NL.
High strikeouts and low walks have always been a bugaboo for Gomez, however, it was less noticeable when he was hitting 20 plus home runs and stealing over 30 bases in a season. Gomez posted the 9th highest strikeout percentage in baseball this past season (30%) among all players with at least 400 plate appearances. While he did lower his strikeout percentage once he signed with the Rangers, it was still down only a few percentage points, from 31 to 27.7%. Since 2015, Gomez has trended negatively in average, OBP, SLG, fWAR, wRC+, and runs scored.
Gomez has posted close to neutral splits for his career, posting a .722 OPS against RHP and .738 OPS against LHP. While Gomez struggled during his time in Houston, he did post solid numbers in RISP with both Houston and Texas, posting a .792 OPS with the Astros, and a 1.145 OPS with the Rangers.
If Gomez continued to struggle with the Rangers, he’d be lucky to land a one-year deal with incentives on the open market this winter. His strong final six weeks of the season helped Gomez potentially land a multi-year contract, with the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mets, Athletics, Giants, and Cardinals all possible fits for the soon to be 31-year-old. Of course, you can’t rule out the Rangers wanting to keep Gomez, as they’re set to lose both Gomez and Ian Desmond to free agency. I can envision Gomez receiving a two-three year deal, for roughly $10-12 million annually, similar to the deal Denard Span signed with the San Francisco Giants last year for three-years and $31 million.
Cespedes remains priority number one for the Mets, however, Gomez offers some intriguing athleticism and speed for a Mets team that has been void of that for some time. While he’s hit leadoff for the bulk of his career, his lifetime OBP of .315 leaves a lot to be desired, although in 17 games batting first for the Rangers he did post a .386 OBP. At this point for the Mets, if Cespedes can’t be retained, the Mets should set their sights on someone that could hit leadoff and get on base at a higher clip than Gomez does, Dexter Fowler is a prime example.