Precious CarGo: Texas signs Carlos Gomez for the stretch run
Saturday afternoon, the Texas Rangers reached an agreement with former Milwaukee and Houston outfielder Carlos Gomez. The move comes a few days following the apparent cessation of Shin-Soo Choo‘s regular season with Texas. Choo’s season ended after a Ross Detwiler pitch to the forearm. The broken bone required surgery to go with a couple months on the shelf.
The move represents a low-cost, potentially high reward move for Texas. The club acquired catcher Jonathan Lucroy, OF/DH Carlos Beltran and relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress to be winning pieces down the stretch. Now Texas adds another motivated player to their already stacked lineup. A guy with plenty to prove to both his new and old team.
Where He Came From
Gomez enjoyed his glory days as a Brewer before becoming the Astros’ trade deadline darling in 2015. Going into that trade, Gomez had credentials including being a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner in Center Field. Before being traded to Houston, Gomez was slashing .262/.328/.423 with eight HR and 43 RBI for an admittedly bad Brewers team. Houston wasn’t the original landing place for Gomez. Milwaukee and the Mets had a trade, but Gomez’s hip killed the deal. Houston stepped in, making the deal to acquire the flashy outfielder.
Gomez never lived up to his hype in Houston, though. His tendency to swing and miss wildly along with average, at best, defense led to his release. His character in the clubhouse is a possible factor as well, though less likely. Gomez was regarded as a positive influence in the room during his Milwaukee stint. That said, a rookie filled Houston locker room could have changed that for the worse. He’s also a bit of a hot head, with a propensity to flip bats and mouth off to opponents.
In 85 games this year, Gomez slashed .210/.272/.322 with just five homers while striking out an incredible 100 times. Because he was released outright following designation, Houston’s on the hook for his full 2016 salary of $9 million.
Where He’s Going
While Choo was the Rangers’ primary right fielder, Gomez looks to fill in as Texas’ left fielder. Gomez has been a center fielder for the majority of his career, but does have 32 games in left. With Ian Desmond firmly anchoring Texas’ center field, and rookie Nomar Mazara most comfortable in right field, Gomez likely slides in as the primary left fielder.
In the lineup, Gomez can provide stability as a lead-off hitter. He offers versatility in where he can hit, but lead-off is his bread and butter. It’s not his best spot, as he’s slashing .254/.311/.409 from that spot, but he has 260 games of experience there. He’d replace current struggling lead-off hitter Jurickson Profar, who is six for his last 50.
Right Place, Right Time
On top of being a low-cost addition for Texas, Gomez provides something that Yasiel Puig, another sensible target for the Rangers, does not offer: extensive down the stretch and postseason success. Consider this: Gomez’s best numbers over his career come in September and October, where he slashes .278/.338/.461. With Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Houston, Gomez has 15 games of post-season experience to the tune of a .273/.333/.545 slash line, three home runs and five RBI.
Gomez’s release likely sparks a fire in him to perform better than ever. The much more stable and experienced leadership in the clubhouse, including Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Ian Desmond, and Cole Hamels along with former Milwaukee teammates Lucroy and Jeffress should keep his hot temper in check. The clubhouse presence of Prince Fielder will also work to give him a much better room atmosphere than he had with the Astros.
According to several local beat writers, Gomez will spend a few games in the minors with Triple-A Round Rock before joining the big league club. It’s possible that he joins the team in Cincinnati on either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on how he feels. At the very least, he should be ready to go for the series against Cleveland.
Jon Daniels has a history of finding diamonds in the rough. With the proper motivation and surroundings, Carlos Gomez’s diamond might shine brighter than anybody’s.