Texas Rangers rumors: Carlos Gomez took a one year deal to return to Texas in 2017, and while he’s still testing the free agent market, Jon Heyman says that the Rangers still like Gomez, and could bring him back for 2018.
Gomez had a strong finish to 2016 with Texas, who signed him after he was released by the Houston Astros, and he re-upped with the Rangers for 2017 on a one year, $11.5 million contract. Gomez had a solid year with the bat, slashing .255/.340/.802, but was dogged by injuries, which limited him to just 105 games.
At 32, Gomez is no longer the plus defender he was in his younger days, but he is still a capable center fielder, and signing him would allow the Rangers to keep Delino DeShields in left field, where they appear to feel he profiles better. That said, Jon Daniels has said improving the team’s defense is a priority this offseason, and while Gomez in center with DeShields in left field would be an upgrade over DeShields in center and Willie Calhoun in left, it still wouldn’t be a particularly strong defensive alignment.
That said, Carlos Tocci, the Rule 5 pick from the Phillies acquired by the Rangers, is considered a plus defensive center fielder, and the Rangers could keep him as the defensive-oriented backup outfielder who comes in late in games for defense. Of course, Tocci, as a Rule 5 pick, can’t be sent to the minors, which means that you’re losing some roster flexibility with your bench if you keep him as your backup — a situation which would be exacerbated if Jurickson Profar, who is out of options, is your backup infielder.
The Rangers appear to still have money to spend, and center field would be an obvious place to spend it, given there’s not a long-term solution on the roster in center field (and yes, I know that there will be 200 comments below that tell me I’m an idiot because I question whether DeShields is good enough defensively to be your long-term center fielder, but regardless of what you or I think, the organization appears to want someone better than him defensively in center). I’d still prefer Jarrod Dyson, an elite defender and baserunner, to Gomez — if you like Tocci, you could platoon Dyson and Tocci in center field, put DeShields in left, and either have Calhoun start the season in AAA until someone gets hurt, or pay someone to take Shin-Soo Choo off your hands and make Calhoun your DH.
But its still not clear what Dyson would cost, or Gomez, though it appears unlikely both will get more than two years guaranteed, which is as far as I’d want to go on either player. Gomez gives you more bat and balances out your lefty-heavy lineup, while Dyson is probably cheaper and offers more glove and a potential platoon partner for Tocci or DeShields, if you want to go the platoon route.
Ultimately, if the Rangers add a position player via trade or free agency, center field seems to be the most likely option, and with Lorenzo Cain, the best center fielder, still out there, there’s not been much movement on the second- or third-tier options on the market. At some point, Gomez may decide that familiarity on a one year deal is a better bet than hoping someone gives him a three year deal once they miss out on Cain, in which case we could see him back in Texas.