The Brewers' Carlos Gomez points skyward as he approaches home plate after his solo home run against the Tigers. (Carlos Osorio / AP)
UPDATE: Well, scratch all that. It now looks like this deal has died, as the Brewers had second thoughts about Wheeler’s elbow following his Tommy John surgery. The original post remains below.
Carlos Gomez is coming back to New York.
According to many Mets beat writers and a few national baseball scribes on Twitter, the Mets have come to terms on a trade that will bring Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez to the Mets. The Brewers will receive Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler.
Let’s start with Gomez.
A 2002 free agent signee out of the Dominican Republic, Gomez worked his way through the Mets’ farm system, reaching the big leagues in 2007. In February 2008, he was one of the key pieces in a trade that brought Johan Santana to New York from Minnesota.
Gomez spent two frustrating seasons with the Twins before going to Milwaukee in a trade for J.J Hardy in November 2009.
Since he’s become an everyday player in 2012, Gomez has flourished as one of the best all-around outfielders in baseball. He was an All-Star in both 2013 and 2014, putting up nearly identical stat lines in each of those seasons. This year, he’s hitting .266 with eight home runs, 20 doubles and 43 RBI. He’s also well-regarded defensively, having won a Gold Glove in 2013, a season in which he added 4.6 wins with his defense alone.
Gomez turns 30 in December and he is under contract for $9 million for the 2016 season, so this is a move that helps the Mets win now and will also help them next season as well. A right-handed hitter, he’ll give the Mets a bit more balance from that side as the club is currently lefty-heavy.
It’s a big move for a team that dearly needs some offensive production. Gomez brings power, speed and solid defense but his acquisition didn’t come without a cost.
Wilmer Flores has spent three seasons bouncing around the Mets’ infield, playing second, short and third base. He’s a .244 career hitter and has 17 home runs and 82 RBI over 197 big league games. He turns 24 next month, so there’s certainly time for him to become more than the role player/platoon-type he’s looked like more of his major league career. The Brewers supposedly like Flores at third base and that should be his new home.
Zack Wheeler is out for the season, having undergone Tommy John surgery earlier this year. Wheeler came to New York in a deadline trade for Carlos Beltran in 2011 and was quite impressive in the 49 starts he made between 2013-14. In 285 1/3 major league innings, Wheeler has allowed 257 hits, struck out 271 and walked 125. Wheeler, 25, won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2017 and doesn’t reach free agency until 2020, so the Brewers should have him at a reasonable cost in their rotation from June of 2016 through the end of the 2019 season. So that’s a ton of talent for the Mets to give away.
But, the reason why the Mets would make this trade is twofold. One, they feel like they can contend right now, given the strength of their starting pitching, even with Wheeler on the DL. So it makes sense to Gomez here for the stretch run. Two, with Steven Matz leading a strong group of Mets minor league starters, replacing Wheeler may be possible with internal options.
The Mets have had the pitching. With Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe and rookie Michael Conforto in the mix, and you can add Gomez to that, the Mets should have enough of an offense to be competitive. The chips have been pushed to the center of the table. The Mets are all in. And with a big weekend series at home against Washington coming up in the next few days, the stretch run is going to be something to watch.