|The Brewers and Twins exchanged surplus up-the-middle talent in a trade intended to improve both big league clubs for 2010. Milwaukee sent veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy, who lost his job to rookie Alcides Escobar in August, to Minnesota for swift center fielder Carlos Gomez. Hardy’s worst performance as a regular cost him not only playing time but also a spot on the big league roster. The Brewers shipped him to Triple-A Nashville while Escobar played every day, a move that delayed Hardy’s eligibility for free agency by one year. When right, he’s a strong defensive shortstop with well above-average power.
Gomez will replace free agent center fielder Mike Cameron in Milwaukee, providing a similar level of defensive value.
|Carlos Gomez, cf
Born: Dec. 4, 1985 in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Mets, July 27, 2002 … Traded by Mets with RHPs Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey and Philip Humber to Twins for LHP Johan Santana, Feb. 2, 2008.
Possibly the fastest player in the game, Gomez raced home from second base to score the game-winning, 12th-inning run for the Twins in their AL Central tie-breaker with the Tigers. He led off that inning with a single, but reaching base is not something he’s specialized in his three big league seasons. His .292 on-base percentage (over 1,102 plate appearances) falls well below the league average and makes him a less-than-ideal option as a leadoff hitter. On the plus side, he did improve his walk rate markedly in ’09. But for a player as athletic and tooled as Gomez, rapid development at the plate is not out of the question. A double-plus runner, Gomez has wiped 59 bases in 80 career attempts (74 percent) and he ranked as the rangiest center fielder in the game in ’08, according to the Fielding Bible. He features above-average arm strength, to boot. Offensively, Gomez has the raw strength to hit for average or better power, but the damage he inflicts is undermined by an impatient approach. He fell out of favor in Minnesota this season, losing progressively more playing time to Denard Span. Though he played in 137 games, Gomez entered the contest as a pinch-runner 22 times.
With the trade of Gomez, only one player from the Johan Santana trade remains with the Twins organization: righthander Deolis Guerra, who reached Double-A as a 20-year-old this season. Minnesota turned Kevin Mulvey into Jon Rauch this summer, while Philip Humber opted for free agency after his second outright off the 40-man roster.
|J.J. Hardy, ss
Age: 27. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 2 arbitration-eligible years before free agency ($4.65 million in ’09).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.