The Milwaukee Brewers have signed Carlos Gomez to a contract extension that will keep the center fielder with the team through 2016.
Gomez’s deal was officially announced as a three-year extension, and multiple reports indicate he’ll be paid $24 million during that span.
“We are happy that Carlos has decided to remain a Brewer for a number of years,” general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. “He has always had the physical skills, and his recent performance has given us the confidence that he will take the next step in becoming one of the top center fielders in the game. His energy, speed and aggressive style of play is a perfect fit for Ron Roenicke’s style of managing.”
In extending Gomez’s deal before he would hit free agency next offseason, the Brewers are hoping his emergence in the second half of last season carries into 2013 and beyond.
Gomez, 27, hit .278 with 14 home runs, 33 RBI and 26 stolen bases after the All-Star break in 2012, finally flashing the five-tool ability he’s long been said to have. Gomez has carried his progress into spring training, hitting .529 and walking four times in 23 plate appearances.
Acquired from Minnesota for shortstop J.J. Hardy prior to the 2010 season, Gomez has hit .248 with 32 home runs and 99 RBI while stealing 71 bases in three seasons with the Brewers. The strong second half in 2012 put his season numbers at .260, 19 home runs and 51 RBI with 37 stolen bases.
Is paying Gomez for just over two months of production worth it? Probably so. If he continues to put up numbers like he did in the second half of last season, $27.5 million is a steal. Just look at what other outfielders were paid this offseason.
B.J. Upton hit .246 with 28 home runs and 78 RBI last season and got a five-year, $75.25 million deal from Atlanta. Though Upton has undoubtedly been a consistently better player than Gomez, the difference in contract figures serves as a prime example of the bargain the Brewers could have if Gomez maintains his level of play.
Michael Bourn got four years and $48 million from Cleveland this offseason, 31-year-old Shane Victorino got three years and $39 million from Boston and Angel Pagan got four years and $40 million from San Francisco.
It’s a bit of a surprise that Gomez’s agent Scott Boras — notorious for playing hardball in order to get the best contract for his clients — would agree to such a deal prior to the final year of a contract. There was great potential for Gomez to build on last year’s second half, put up monster numbers and price himself out of Milwaukee, but both sides are taking risks.
Gomez is potentially leaving money on the table and in return is getting security. The Brewers are risking a return to the old Gomez, the one who lost his starting job in 2011 and had to earn his way back on the field.
But players as talented as Gomez don’t come around often. He was one of just five players in baseball to hit 15 or more home runs and steal 30 or more bases last season, joining Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Upton and Jimmy Rollins on the impressive list.
Only time will tell if this gamble was one worth taking, but the Brewers will likely look back at Wednesday as a day they locked up a big piece to the puzzle, rather than a day they made a mistake.