In a stunning move, the Astros have designated center fielder Carlos Gomez for assignment, the team announced. Right-hander Jandel Gustave will come up from Triple-A Fresno to take Gomez’s roster spot.
Gomez’s designation represents a shocking fall from grace for the 30-year-old, whom Houston acquired from Milwaukee last July in a blockbuster deadline deal that also saw right-hander Mike Fiers join the Astros in exchange for four prospects. Two of those prospects – righty Josh Hader (No. 22) and outfielder Brett Phillips (No. 58) – currently rank among Baseball America’s Top 100. The Astros swooped in to land Gomez after the collapse of a trade between the Brewers and Mets, who were set to send righty Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee for Gomez before backing out over concerns regarding Gomez’s hip.
Gomez was a sought-after commodity last summer because he had established himself as one of the sport’s most well-rounded outfielders in previous seasons, combining excellence at the plate, on the base paths and defensively. From 2012-14, the former highly touted prospect batted .277/.336/.483 with 66 home runs in 1,686 plate appearances, stole 111 bases and accounted for 16.1 fWAR. Gomez was less effective prior to last season’s trade, though he still slashed a respectable .262/.328/.423 with eight homers in his final 74 games with the Brewers.
Gomez’s career began going off the rails after the Astros acquired him, as he hit a meager .242/.288/.383 in 41 contests down the stretch in 2015. But that line looks appealing compared to the .210/.272/.322 Gomez has compiled this season in 323 trips to the plate. Further, he has swatted only five homers while striking out a career-worst 31 percent of the time (a marked increase over his lifetime 23.1 percent mark) and posting his lowest ISO (.112) since 2010. From an offensive production standpoint, Gomez’s ability to steal bases (he’s 23 of 28 in Houston) is the lone aspect of his game that has continued to be above average since the Astros picked him up.
“It’s not a secret that I’m not doing my job and I’m really disappointed in myself,” Gomez admitted to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (Twitter link).
Continued Gomez, “I still have a long career. I wish the best to this organization, this team” (Twitter link via Mark Berman of FOX 26).
With Gomez now out of the picture, the Astros look primed to turn center field over to defensive whiz Jake Marisnick, though he has never hit particularly well in the majors and is carrying a .225/.265/.337 line across 191 PAs this season. Unless another team takes on Gomez’s salary via trade or claims him on waivers, the Astros will also be responsible for the remainder of the $9MM he’s owed. If he goes unclaimed and Houston releases him, another club could sign Gomez for the prorated league minimum. Of course, that would be an enormous drop for a player who entered the season as a candidate to sign a $100MM-plus deal as a free agent during the upcoming winter. In fact, in his preseason free agent power rankings for 2017, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes forecast a potential $150MM payday for Gomez. His career has since cratered, though, making that type of deal a pipe dream for the Scott Boras client.
Brian McTaggart of MLB.com first reported Gomez’s designation.