Carlos Gomez – 30 years old
2016: Houston Astros, Texas Rangers
Carlos Gomez is an immensely talented baseball player. Sometimes.
Gomez was one of the premiere outfielders in all of baseball as recently as 2014, and at just 30 years old, his recent decline has not been due to age alone. In 2013 Gomez was named an All-Star, earned a Gold Glove Award, and posted a whopping 7.4 Wins Above Replacement for the Milwaukee Brewers.
(Throwback: Gomez was a centrepiece in the 2008 deal that brought Johan Santana to the New York Mets from the Minnesota Twins. He was traded from Minnesota to Milwaukee one year later for J.J. Hardy).
After a relatively quiet opening to 2015, Gomez was shipped to Houston in a multi-player deal and it was there that his career really stalled out. This year with the Astros, Gomez hit .210 with a .594 OPS in 85 games and was released in August.
The Texas Rangers scooped him up quickly and overnight he was back to being Carlos Gomez. In 33 regular season games with the Rangers he hit .284 with a .905 OPS and eight home runs, quickly reestablishing himself as a legitimate MLB option before his free agency. The Texas Rangers would like to have him back, but an interesting (and unpredictable) open market could await him.
Positionally, Gomez has spent nearly his entire career as a centre-fielder. There have been some corner outfield innings sprinkled in, of course, and he did primarily play in left while briefly with the Rangers, so there is some recent precedent there. At his best — or even at his average — Gomez is a valuable defender and a notable upgrade on Toronto’s 2016 corner outfields.
While not a left-handed bat, his speed brings another appealing asset to the table for a team like Toronto looking to improve in that area. Gomez had three consecutive seasons of 30+ steals from 2012 to 2014, and could conceivably still hit that mark. His strikeout rates can climb, which is a factor for the Blue Jays, but his talent has offset that in the past.
With even career splits and the raw tools his still possesses, Gomez is an attractive free agent. He does require a high appetite for risk, though, which is something the Blue Jays may not have with an everyday outfield position. It’s also worth noting that Gomez is a Scott Boras client.
Next Up: The former Ray bounces back