Carlos Gomez believes he can be the player he once was, the Gold Glove center fielder, the two-time All-Star, the guy who stole 40 bases, hit 24 home runs and drove in 73 runs in 2013 for the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Texas Rangers hope so, too. Both are betting that Gomez is the answer in center field in 2017 and that his two-month “tryout” at the end of 2016 wasn’t just a mirage.
The club officially announced his one-year, $11.5 million deal Tuesday morning.
In my mind I’m the best choice to play center field but I’m open to play anywhere. The most important thing is to give my team a chance to win every day. That’s the goal.
Rangers OF Carlos Gomez
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Gomez had multiyear offers from other teams, including the Rangers, but chose a more lucrative one-year deal with hopes of proving he has found his way back to prominence in 2017.
“There’s no question I feel really comfortable in Texas,” Gomez said by phone from Puerto Rico. “I think it’s a smart move for myself to come back to the team that gave me an opportunity last year after I had no job.”
In 33 games with the Rangers, Gomez hit .284 with eight homers, six doubles and 24 RBIs. He was released by the Astros before signing a minor league deal with the Rangers in August. He was hitting .210 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 85 games with Houston.
“I think it says something when a player chooses to bet on himself. It’s a very good feeling from the club’s standpoint when a player believes in himself and has that confidence that they can go out and continue to have success here with the Rangers,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said at Children’s Medical Center Dallas after players and club staff visited with patients.
Gomez, who turned 31 earlier this month, has multiple contract incentives, according to baseball writer Jon Heyman, including $250,000 for winning the MVP, $100,000 for an All-Star appearance, Gold Glove or Silver Slugger award and $150,000 for winning the Comeback Player of the Year.
“I give a ton of credit to Jeff and the coaching staff, not just for the environment that was created so that he could succeed, but some specific things on the hitting side that he clearly took to,” Daniels said. “We think we have a player now that defensively makes us better and then offensively can really add some punch to the lineup.”
Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Gomez has the opportunity to be a dynamic center fielder.
“He’s a guy who makes our club better, not only in center field, but with his legs and at the plate as well,” he said.
Right-handed pitcher Brady Dragmire has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Dragmire, 23, was obtained from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a Dec. 2 waiver claim. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, release, or outright Dragmire to the minor leagues.
24 RBIs for Carlos Gomez in 33 games with the Rangers in 2016. He had 29 RBIs in 85 games for the Astros.
Gomez, who was traded from Milwaukee to Houston at the deadline in July 2015, lost his way at the plate with the Astros. In 126 games over parts of two seasons, he had 236 strikeouts with nine homers and 42 RBIs. In his last full season with the Brewers in 2014, he hit .284 with 23 homers, 73 RBIs and struck out 141 times.
“I had a tough time in Houston,” Gomez said. “I think everybody in his career has one or two years when they have to fight back and it happened last year. I just believe that I’m a player who can help any team win. I take [my struggles in Houston] as something to make me stronger and a better player. I always believe in myself even in the tough times.”