Rivas has seen MLB time in each of the past three seasons, splitting those years between the Cubs, Padres and Pirates. The 27-year-old hit well in a tiny sample of 49 plate appearances during his 2021 MLB debut with the Cubs but carries a more tepid .233/.316/.342 slash in 410 trips to the plate over the two previous seasons.
That said, Rivas has a minor league option remaining and an excellent track record at the game’s top minor league level. He’s a career .313/.424/.492 hitter in parts of four Triple-A seasons and has drawn a walk in a massive 15.1% of his plate appearances there. He’s more of a gap hitter than true power bat, evidenced by his 40 doubles and 15 long balls in 637 career plate appearances in Triple-A. He’s primarily been a first baseman in his career, but Rivas does have 342 innings in left field and 75 innings in right field between his time in the big leagues and minors combined. He’ll compete for a job as a left-handed bat off manager Oli Marmol’s bench this spring.
As for the 25-year-old Gomez, he looked to be on the cusp of slugging his way to the big leagues a couple years back but has been dogged by consistent contact issues and saw his numbers decline in Triple-A this year. In 2022, Gomez split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, belting 39 home runs while posting a massive .294/.371/.624 slash line. That power output was accompanied by a staggering 34.7% strikeout rate, however, and things only got worse in his second go-around at the Triple-A level. He still mashed 30 homers this past season but did so with a diminished .232/.293/.457 line and an only slightly improved 31.7% strikeout rate.
The right-handed-hitting Gomez still has two minor league options remaining and is clearly bursting with raw power, but scouting reports have long been down on his glove, speed and particularly his hit tool. FanGraphs and Baseball America both credited Gomez with 70-grade raw power (on the 20-80 scale) as recently as last offseason, but BA put a 40 on his hit tool while FanGraphs was even more bearish and pegged him at a 30.
A club looking for some right-handed pop to stash in the upper minors could well take a flier on the power, but Gomez will need to significantly scale back the strikeouts and/or improve defensively if he’s to carve out a big league role. The Cardinals have a week to trade him or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.