After watching the rival Philadelphia Phillies land the biggest prize of the free agent market, the New York Mets responded by reportedly signing Carlos Gomez to a minor league deal. The deal, which is pending a physical and not yet official, reunites the team with an outfielder who was once one of their top prospects.
The Mets originally signed a 16-year-old Gomez in 2002 as an international free agent. He was called up on May 13, 2007 at the age of 21 — he was the youngest player in baseball at the time — and picked up two hits in his debut. In 58 games with the team that year, he slashed .232/.288/.304 with a 52 wRC+ and a 0.3 fWAR. The club eventually packaged Gomez in a trade with the Minnesota Twins that returned Johan Santana.
A lot has happened in Gomez’s career since departing the Mets, but he never did quite fulfill the promise he showed in the minor leagues. He has played for the Twins, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers and, most recently, the Tampa Bay Rays. The 33-year-old finished 2018 by posting a .208/.298/.336 slash line with an 80 wRC+ and a -0.5 fWAR in 118 games. The best stretch of his career came in Milwaukee, when he was voted to back-to-back National League All Star teams in 2013 and 2014 and won the Gold Glove award in 2013. During his 12-year career, he has a .253/.313/.412 slash line, 142 home runs, a 96 wRC+, and a 25.1 fWAR.
This is not the first time the Mets have been connected to Gomez since his departure from Flushing. Most famously, he was the proposed return in the 2015 trade that would have sent Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee. News of the deal unfolded in real time as the team took on the San Diego Padres on a Wednesday night at Citi Field, which resulted in Flores showing his emotions on the field. Sandy Alderson eventually told the media after the game that the deal had fallen through.
For now, Gomez will serve as an additional level of outfield depth for the Mets. Given the injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie and the possibility that Jeff McNeil may need to move back to third base for the time being, Gomez will have the opportunity to compete with the likes of Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco for playing time in the outfield. Should McNeil’s services be needed in the infield, the club will likely enter 2019 with an outfield of Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton sharing time in center field.