The New York Mets signed veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez to a minor league contract on Friday. Here’s a breakdown of why they made this move.
After years of flirting with each other over the prospect of a potential reunion, on Friday, the New York Mets and Carlos Gomez agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
For those of you who are unaware, Gomez originally began his career with the Mets. He first signed with the team in 2002 at the age of 16 as an international free agent and made his debut for the team in 2007. In his rookie season with New York, he appeared in 58 games for the club, where he batted .232 with a .288 OBP, hitting 2 home runs and 12 RBI, along with 12 steals.
The 2007 season turned out to be his lone season with the Mets, as he was traded to the Minnesota Twins in the Johan Santana trade the following offseason.
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He spent two seasons with the Twins before being dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers following the 2009 season, where he went on to finally make a name for himself. In six seasons with Milwaukee, he was selected to the All-Star Game twice and won a Gold Glove playing center field in 2013.
He was first rumored to return to the Mets prior to the 2015 trade line. In the now infamous July 29th game against the San Diego Padres, news broke online that Gomez was going to return to the Mets in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores. Flores was on playing in the game when the news broke and was seen crying on the field upon hearing the news that he was being traded.
However, the deal did not end up being finalized and Gomez was traded to the Houston Astros instead, and the Mets later made a deal to acquire Yoenis Cespedes on July 31.
Gomez spent the remainder of 2015 with the Astros and the majority of the following season before being released by the team in August of 2016 due to poor performance. He was picked up by the Texas Rangers following the release and was re-signed by them in 2017 as well.
After rebounding with the Rangers in 2017, the Tampa Bay Rays signed him to a 1-year $4 million contract last season to serve as their everyday Right Fielder. In 118 games for the club, he batted .208 with a .298 OBP, along with 9 home runs, 32 RBI and 12 steals.
After 12 seasons away from the team, Gomez will now be returning to the Mets for Spring Training to compete for a spot on the big league roster.
Going into the 2019 season, the plan as of now is for the Mets is to start Jeff McNeil in Left Field, Michael Conforto in center field and Brandon Nimmo in right field. Juan Lagares will likely man center field against left-handed pitchers and Keon Broxton on the bench as the fifth outfielder.
Additionally, the Mets have also brought veteran outfielders Raja Davis and Gregor Blanco into Spring Training on minor league deals to provide depth to the group and more options for the start of the season barring injury of other players.
The Gomez signing strikes me as another move to provide depth to the outfield, as despite his past performances as an All-Star center fielder, he has struggled in recent years and is no longer the player he used to be, hence the minor league deal.
This move could likely be a reaction to the recent injuries to infielders Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. McNeil, who played mainly second base for the Mets last season, will probably be moved back to the infield if either one or both of them is not ready for Opening Day, and possibly because the Mets are unsatisfied with their current alternative options in the outfield should that happen.
Aside from Lagares, who missed the majority of last season with a foot injury, none of their alternatives in the outfield performed well last season, with Davis having the highest batting average with .224, Blanco with .217 and Broxton with .179.
While Gomez did not have a high average last season, he arguably has more upside than those three and on a minor league deal, is a low risk, potentially high reward signing.
The other possibility this move represents for the Mets is to potentially give them a cheap alternative for Lagares, whom they could look to unload in order to free up his $9 million salary for the 2019 season.
Despite Spring Training already underway, the Mets are still rumored to be interested in bringing in another starting pitcher, and former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel is one of those potential options, though he would command a sizable price tag.
Regardless of their reason for signing him, we can expect to see Gomez get a decent amount of playing time this spring and be given the opportunity to make the big league team. This may not be the flashiest of move the Mets could have made, but Gomez could provide a solid right-handed bat off of the bench, and provide insurance in the outfield to what has been a historically injury prone team.
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Why do you believe the Mets signed Gomez and do you think he’ll have a significant role on this team?