Carlos Gomez and the Brewers have agreed to a three-year, $24 million contract extension, the team announced.
Gomez is making $4.3 million this season in his final year of arbitration eligibility and would have hit the open market as a free agent next winter. Instead according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com he’ll get $7 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015, and $9 million in 2016.
Gomez was once a top prospect, but looked like a bust before a career-year at the plate in 2012. He hit .260 with 19 homers and 37 steals in 137 games while posting a .768 OPS that’s 90 points higher than his previous best mark, although Gomez’s awful plate discipline and strike-zone control remained with a 98/20 K/BB ratio. Overall, with both offense and defense factored in, he was probably a top-10 center fielder.
Clearly the Brewers are either buying into last season’s power development sticking around for good or simply believe his excellent range in center field makes Gomez an above-average player regardless of whether he regresses at the plate. Three years and $24 million is a big commitment to someone with a .673 career OPS, but elite defensive center fielders don’t have to hit much to provide big value and $7-$9 million per season isn’t exactly superstar money these days. Depending on how far you trust various defensive metrics, Gomez was worth about twice that much last season.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.