Mets close door on Keon Broxton, open one for Carlos Gomez
By Tim Boyle
In a somewhat surprising move, the New York Mets decided it was time to officially close the door on Keon Broxton by designating him for assignment and replacing him with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez.
I think early yesterday many of us believed when Michael Conforto returns from the IL, either Carlos Gomez or Keon Broxton would get axed from the roster. In fact, this article was originally all about them competing for work. Gomez joined the New York Mets on Friday following Conforto’s trip to the 7-day IL due to a concussion—or so it seemed. In actuality, he was able to make his rise back to the big leagues because the Mets did the unexpected and gave the three deadliest letter a major league player can hear: DFA.
Now part of an outfield which includes a multitude of options, Gomez’s roster spot looks rather safe. While he will need to perform to last the year, he’s no longer competing with Broxton for the fifth outfield spot.
Still, Gomez must show he’s a better player than Broxton. Based on what we’ve seen this year and in the ones before it, he clearly is.
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It took a while to make this decision because Broxton carried with him a secret weapon. Out of minor league options, I was convinced the Mets would give him more than two months to figure things out. After all, they traded three players to land him. Instead of doing the expected waiting game, Brodie Van Wagenen threw a curveball and admitted to a mistake.
Broxton struggled at the plate this year to the point where only Todd Frazier has given him competition as the team’s worst hitter. Ask any Brewers fan (and I have) about what they think of Broxton and you’ll likely hear a few choice words.
Aside from a few hot streaks in his career, Broxton has never been a threat in the big leagues. His lifetime batting average is only a handful of points above the Mendoza Line. The most impressive offensive ability has been his speed and power. This year with the Mets, he only put the speed on display.
The tenure in New York will end after 34 games, 53 plate appearances, and a slash line of .143/.208/.163. Among his 7 hits, only one went for extra bases when he knocked a double.
There’s no telling how Gomez will perform with the Mets especially because he won’t get to play every day. Last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, he hit only .208/.298/.336 with 9 home runs in 408 plate appearances. Essentially, he put together the kind of year we figured would be Broxton’s ceiling.
Gomez is older, has no real future with the Mets, and is playing this season for his MLB life. He’s one of the most well-known players in baseball who settled for a minor league deal this winter. There’s no denying the two-time All-Star is well beyond his best years, but perhaps he’s one of the best 25 healthy men in the Mets organization. At a minimum, he’s better than Broxton.
During Conforto’s absence, Gomez should get an opportunity to play. The Mets didn’t promote him for anything else. He’s here so they can see what he’s able to do against MLB pitching—or at least Miami Marlins pitchers and possibly a few of the washed up ones on the Washington Nationals.
We know what Broxton is at this stage of the season and of his career. A little more mysterious is how much Gomez has left. Even if he is nothing more than a fifth outfielder, this should be an improvement.
In order to get the full effect of what Gomez can do, I want to see him start and pinch-hit. He’s not earning an everyday role with the Mets this year so it’s essential to determine how well he’s able to perform when he gets one plate appearance a game. As Broxton said after Thursday’s loss, his lack of playing time is a reason why he believes he struggled. Those words may have helped put an end to his Mets career as he’ll get the full Travis d’Arnaud treatment.
Gomez has a phenomenal opportunity. He can climb the depth chart and possibly even pass Juan Lagares. I don’t believe Lagares and his large salary are going anywhere, but the Mets shouldn’t balk at cutting down on his playing time if Gomez can prove he’s the better player.
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First, CarGo must significantly outplay Broxton in every way. He needs to give this organization no choice but to keep him around and do something they didn’t feel like Broxton earned, give his bat chances to swing.