At the end of July of 2015, the Brewers and Mets looked like they had a deal struck to send Carlos Gomez to New York. The Mets backed out, claiming an undisclosed injury for Gomez. Brewers GM Doug Melvin then swung a deal to send Carlos to Houston; he had to add starting pitcher Mike Fiers to the swap to get the Astros to include outfielder Brett Phillips, viewed by most as the centerpiece of the return for Milwaukee. The Brewers also received outfielder Domingo Santana, pitcher Adrian Houser, and pitcher Josh Hader.
It's early. Results of trades shouldn't be evaluated after a quarter of a season. But it is very tempting to look at the Astros move last year to make the play-offs as a very bad decision.
To be fair, the move did what they wanted. Perhaps it would be more fair to say it didn't prevent the Astros from getting into the post season. Gomez played adequately, and Fiers pitched well. His no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 21 of last year was a highlight of the Astros' season.
The 'Stros had a pretty good post season, beating the Yankees in the Wild Card game and losing to eventual World Champs Kansas City in the divisional round. Optimism for 2016 was understandable.
But 2016 has not started well. The Astros stand at 16-24, last place in the AL West. They have the second worst record in the American League. A comeback isn't out of the question, but last year's hot start, followed by .500 ball the rest of the season, will probably be replaced by a cold start followed by .500 ball the rest of the season. At this point, Astros look like a .500 team over the course of a full season.
Gomez is hitting poorly, to put it kindly. He has an OPS of .486. He hasn't hit a homerun, and has only driven in 5 runs. His current strikeout rate would put him well over 200 this year. That won't happen...the Astros can't continue to run him out there with such abysmal numbers. Indeed, he went on the DL yesterday, for a ribcage injury. It is difficult, at this point, to see the Astros re-signing Gomez as an unrestricted free agent after this season. That probably was never an option, anyways, making this player rental look very expensive.
Fiers has held up his part better in 2016. He's 3-1, with a WHIP of 1.32. He seems to be pretty much the same pitcher that he was before the deal. But his upside has been reached; he's a back of the rotation pitcher who relies on changing speeds and must have his control. There is value in that, but not the value of the four players traded.
So the ultimate judgment on the trade will rest with the performance of the four players that Milwaukee received in the trade. Domingo Santana has played regularly for the Brewers in 2016, and produced at pretty much expected levels. A shoulder strain has perhaps adversely effected his power and throwing, and his outfield play has been uncertain. He strikes out a lot, which is no surprise (he will also pass 200 k's given the opportunity). But his on base percentage of .352 is OK. The jury will be out on Sunday for a while, but what we see now may be what we get down the road.
The trade results will most likely hinge on the future performances of Brett Phillips and Josh Hader. Maverick is at AA Biloxi, and his numbers are solid (.794 OPS, with 6 homers). No red flags there; he may see the big club as a September call-up. Hader, a left hander starting for Biloxi, has been terrific with an ERA under 1 and a WHIP right about at 1. There is even talk of bringing him up now, with the struggles and injuries in the Brewers' rotation. That isn't happening, although a September appearance for Josh seems likely at this point, too. Adrian Houser is also at Biloxi, and has not pitched well. He has allowed 29 earned runs in 36.1 innings, with a WHIP of 1.431. But he's a big right hander (6'4", 235) who is still only 22, so further development is possible.
At the time of the deal it looked like a win for the Brewers. It still does.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs