Another season is in the book for the Texas Rangers, and it ended in unfamiliar territory. Since 2010, only two Rangers teams played the only the minimum 162 games – 2014’s injury-laden team and this season’s. With so much up in the air following this year’s unfulfilled expectations, Jon Daniels has a few extra weeks to sit back and analyze his strategy for the weeks following the World Series’ conclusion at the end of the month.
We’ll take a look at a few of the decisions facing Daniels’ and his staff by posing one very simple question: Would you, or wouldn’t you? We’ll start with one of the key re-acquisitions from 2016 to 2017 – Carlos Gomez.
Would You or Wouldn’t You: Re-sign Carlos Gomez?
Gomez will be entering his age 32 season. He had two different stints on the 2017 Disabled List – once for his hamstring, once for a cyst on his shoulder and also sat out for most of September with an ankle injury. Over 105 games played, Gomez slashed .255/.340/.462 with 17 homers, 51 RBI and 51 Runs Scored. Defensively, Gomez sat right at 0.0 dWAR.
Why You Would: Gomez asserted himself as a spark plug at the end of the 2016 season, even citing a change in swing mechanics as a rebirth of sorts. In fact, while his batting average was right around his career average, he posted an on-base and slugging percentage he hasn’t seen since his last All-Star year , in 2014.
He’s always featured Gold Glove-caliber defense and, in fact, has been the best all-around and truest defensive center fielder Texas has seen in some time. Even on a lame ankle in the last couple of weeks of the season, Gomez toughed out the injury and played a more than adequate center field, making a few difficult catches.
He’s a threat on the base paths as well, and even though injuries limited him to just 17 stolen bases and he’s getting older, Gomez’ confidence game might enable him to up those totals going forward.
He became something of a cult hero after being released from the Astros at the end of 2016 and repeatedly professing how much he loves the environment and culture in the Rangers’ clubhouse. He plays with a fire and determination that fits this club under Jeff Banister well.
Why You Wouldn’t: Delino Deshields. In Gomez’ absence, Deshields stepped up both offensively and defensively to force his way into the everyday lineup by the end of the year. In eight more at-bats, fifteen more games than Gomez, Deshields amassed a 2.2 WAR, compared to Gomez’ 1.8.
With more experience in center field came better defense. While Deshields will likely never be a Gold Glove center fielder like Gomez his, he is showing that he can hold his own, learning to take better routes and taking command of the outfield. Deshields’ presence in the lineup cannot be understated either.
While he fell short of his goal of 100 runs scored, he still hit 75 runs, stole 29 bases, laid down 13 sacrifice bunts (those are productive outs), and put up an Extra Bases Taken percentage of 68%. He’s not nearly the power threat that Carlos Gomez is, but in a lineup that features Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Elvis Andrus and potentially Adrian Beltre, he doesn’t need to be a power factor.
The Rangers may decide that they can live with the growing pains and shortcomings of the 25-year old Deshields to keep his .347 on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.
Factor all of that in with the fact that Gomez made $11.5 million in 2016. At 32, Gomez is looking for the last big deal of his career and will likely command a higher salary with more years than the Rangers are willing to give.
Deshields, however, is under club control through 2022, and has shown an ability to learn and grow as a center fielder and offensive player. With Texas not a sure playoff bet going into 2018, this may not be the time to spend lavishly on a premium player when you have an acceptable one already in the system.
But would you tender Gomez a Qualifying Offer? The Qualifying Offer for Free Agents who spent an entire year in one organization is $18.1 million. Remember that if a Free Agent is offered that 1-year, $18.1 million contract but turns it down, then the team that offered it receives a compensation pick between the first and second round in the 2018 draft.
Sticking a Qualifying Offer out there for the center fielder Gomez is a risky proposition – there is the chance that he’ll accept it. He took a 1-year deal to stay in Texas and probably wouldn’t have an issue coming back on one. He also wouldn’t be eligible to be offered one next winter.
If he accepts it, sure you get all the positives that come with Carlos Gomez, but nearly $20 million of your payroll is tied up with one player.
What would I do? I WOULDN’T re-sign Carlos Gomez. I WOULD tender him a Qualifying Offer, though.
So what would you do? Send your smokin' red hot Carlos Gomez takes to Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.