The St. Louis Cardinals need a centerfielder. Carlos Gomez needs a new home. Should these two things combine for a potential revival? Everybody loves a comeback, including the checkbook.
In order to properly assess what a Gomez deal could bring, let's list the pros and cons of such a partnership.
Gomez was once an elite player for the division rival Milwaukee Brewers. After a rough finish in Wisconsin and even tougher time in Houston, Gomez found his stroke in Texas this past summer.
Was that an anomaly or did Gomez truly recover something? Let's look at the details.
*Gomez was a gold glover in 2013 and an All Star in 2013 and 2014. He provided the Brewers with a 8.5 Wins Above Replacement(WAR) in 2013. He followed that up with a 4.6 WAR in 2014. This isn't a flash in the pan type of talent or true reach. Gomez has the intangibles that the Cards need.
*He has genuine pop. Gomez hit 20+ home runs in the 2013-14 seasons and hit eight in just 33 games with the Rangers last year. One may say certain parks favor the long ball, but Gomez showed he can do it in separate leagues and many ballparks.
*There's an energy with Gomez. An excitement. He wears his emotions on his sleeve often, and while it can be a detriment during a rough patch to certain teams, the Cards could use some of that flair. It works for them. Look at the colorfulness of Carlos Martinez. Gomez has that kind of aura and it could blossom in St. Louis.
*Gomez is a legit base stealing threat. He's been charged 239 times with theft on the bases and it's something that may force manager Mike Matheny to embrace the running game. Gomez gives the Cards some much needed speed on the bases.
*He would come cheaper than most free agents and wouldn't cost the Cardinals a compensatory draft pick. While he showed a spark in Texas, Gomez still requires a full season of production to get that last big deal.
*He's only 30-years-old. The book is not closed on a resurgence for a player with Gomez's skill set.
*Gomez is a risk. Take away those 33 games in Texas, and the kid has been a lost cause for two seasons. He has split those two seasons with three teams after being entrenched in Milwaukee as a possible franchise player.
*Gomez strikes out a ton and doesn't walk. Sound familiar? You could have three legit 100 strikeout guys in Gomez, Matt Carpenter, and Randal Grichuk. Gomez also abides by the Matt Adams school of thought when it comes to drawing walks. In other words, he doesn't walk a lot.
*Gomez' swing and miss percentage, per Fangraphs, was up to 16.2 percent in 2016. That is the highest of his career and shows a decrease in bat speed.
*Busch Stadium is a pitcher friendly park, unlike Miller Park and Arlington. Gomez's .640 OPS at Busch Stadium in 173 plate appearances suggest a struggle.
Overall, the Cards and Gomez need each other. Gomez needs a legit place to plant the revival seed and the Cards need a boost in center field at a cost that won't cripple their future plans. In a perfect world, Gomez could give the Cards the defense and offense they seek. In another, he could be a disappointment.
What do I think? If the juice isn't worth the squeeze on Dexter Fowler and Colorado wants a load for Charlie Blackmon, take a low liability flier on Gomez. It would have to be two years or less. 33 games doesn't deserve a long term deal. Gomez is in "prove yourself" mode. It wouldn't be the exciting deal that fans want, but it might be the smart move right now.
I truly believe that unless Mozeliak pulls a rabbit out of his hat with a trade, the free agency market doesn't have much juice left in the outfield. Do you want to give Fowler 4-5 years? No thanks. Mozeliak will play it smart now and attack harder at mid-season or next winter. In the midst of it all, Cards will still be a playoff team.
Carlos Gomez isn't a flashy signing, but he needs to be prove himself again, so why not in St. Louis? The Cards don't want to overpay for talent in a dry market, so why not take a chance on Gomez?
Like it or not, this is a likely scenario.