At the deadline last year the Brewers sent Carlos Gomez to the Mets (for a few hours), and then permanently to the Astros. Mike Fiers joined him in his trek south, and four ‘Stros prospects headed north...or perhaps more accurately, north and east. Milwaukee received outfielders Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips, lefty pitcher Josh Hader, and righty Adrian Houser.
The results on the Brewers side have been mixed. Santana went straight to the big league club and produced fairly well for the end of the 2015 season. Injuries to the shoulder and elbow of his throwing arm have derailed his 2016 season, though, and the Brewers still don’t know what they have with "Sunday".
Phillips has played this season in AA Biloxi, and while he hasn’t shown the progress one would hope for a future major leaguer (.230/.324/.424), he has flashed enough that Brewers’ fans still have hope for him to help the team down the line (some hoping for sooner rather than later).
Adrian Houser has also worked in Biloxi, though his season was recently cut short by Tommy John surgery and it's now likely he'll miss most of if not all of 2017 as well. Houser's run prevention didn't look all that great with a 5+ ERA, but as Kyle explored recently for BP Milwaukee there was still plenty of reason for optimism in Houser's future.
Josh Hader has been the gem of the deal so far, doing so well at Biloxi that he was promoted to AAA Colorado Springs. He was even included on the ‘Futures Game’, and as reported by Mike Bauman of MLB.com, his short appearance there was successful:
Hader, the Brewers' No. 4 prospect who currently pitches at Triple-A Colorado Springs, entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning, with the U.S. trailing the World, 4-3. He promptly struck out Josh Naylor, an infielder in the Marlins' organization, with a 96-mph fastball.
Hader’s performance for Colorado Springs has been poor (his 1.84 WHIP is almost twice his number at Biloxi, 1.00), which is concerning. But the Springs isn’t the most pitcher friendly spot, and lefties that throw 96 mph generally will find their way to the major leagues.
For the Astros, in one way the trade has been a success: they made the play-offs in 2015. However, 2016 has shown disappointing results for the trade. Fiers has a higher than normal ERA of 4.76, and his WHIP of 1.39 is above his career average of 1.24. Walks and strikeouts are down, hits and home runs allowed are up. (Of course, he’d be the Brewers 4th best starter right now).
Carlos Gomez has been worse. He has slashed .208/.272/.326. These numbers are worse than the start of his Brewer career, and his July (.155/.210/.310) isn’t encouraging in any way. He has only stolen 9 bases this year, leaving his abilities as a center fielder as his lone remaining virtue.
But that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came here to talk about Carlos Gomez 2017. Specifically, where he will be playing in 2017.
Gogo is a free agent after this year. His stock has, naturally, fallen drastically as the season has progressed, and it now seems likely to me that he will need to sign a one year prove it deal somewhere. It's not even a certainty at this point that the Astros tender Gomez a qualifying offer after the season.
Maybe the Mets were right. Maybe the hips are degenerating. Maybe he has lost that step and that quickness, the eye-hand coordination, that seemed to be making him a star for several years. With his top attributes gone, is he now just another guy?
My initial premise was that it makes sense to me for the Brewers to be the team that he goes to in 2017 to try and bounce back. He is making $9.1 million this year. I can’t see anyone paying him more much more than that next season on a one-year deal. That's a price the Brewers could certainly afford.
Carlos’ season in 2016 would have fit right in with the poor performance of all the outfielders on the Brewers not named Ryan Braun, and he would have been an upgrade defensively. Next year’s team has the potential to be demonstrably worse than this year's iteration, so that production level wouldn’t be too much of an issue. The Brewers could perhaps do their own take on a centerfield platoon, allowing Kirk Nieuwenhuis to play only at Miller Park.
If he returned to form at all, it would be a huge hit with Brewer fans. He was a fan favorite, stating that he loved playing for the Brewers and even said he'd like to finish his career in Milwaukee. Gestures to fans in the middle of a rebuild are not a bad idea. A one year deal would not block anybody, and if he continued his regression he just wouldn’t play that much.
I don’t know at this point how the Brewers will be configured next year, or how GM David Stearns plans for them to be configured. I know that I would prefer Carlos Gomez in center next year to Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Ramon Flores, no matter what the results. But there might be other options (Rymer Liriano, for example) to put in the outfield to see if he will help the team. Domingo Santana will get a full shot in right, so barring injury center is the only available opening.
I’m not as excited about this as I was when I thought of it, but I’m not convinced that it couldn’t be a good move for the team. If it is a physical deterioration, then the results won’t improve, and it doesn’t make any sense at all, and that is possible. If he is healthy and there is a chance of a rebound, I would love to see him back with the Brewers.