MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Rangers have nothing to lose in signing Gomez

Rangers have nothing to lose in signing Gomez

The Texas Rangers are in low-risk, high-reward mode with the signing of Carlos Gomez.

Gomez was available because he had been released by the Astros. His performance for Houston was clearly substandard.

Still, there are knowledgeable people around baseball shaking their heads over that performance; figuring that Gomez should have something substantial left in his career.

Gomez is, after all, only 30. He is just two years removed from a second straight All-Star appearance. Gomez is only three years removed from being a Gold Glove center fielder.

Gomez had, in that recent work, a rare blend of speed and power. Over the 2013 and '14 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, he had 74 stolen bases and 47 home runs. Plus, Gomez played the game at full throttle on a daily basis.

• Rangers sign veteran outfielder Gomez

Combine those qualities with the fact that the Rangers have lost outfielder Shin-Soo Choo with a fractured left forearm, and you have a set of circumstances that make the signing of Gomez an entirely reasonable move.

Gomez is expected to play briefly at Triple-A Round Rock before being called up to the Rangers. Manager Jeff Banister made it clear Sunday that Gomez will not be joining Texas merely to provide outfield depth, but he will be given the opportunity to be the regular left fielder.

"We'll get him out there and let him play," Banister said. "This is a veteran outfielder who, when he is out there, can impact the game. This is not a young guy who has to get by with youthful exuberance. He's got exuberance, but he is in the middle part of his career. This is a guy who can take over a game."

"We want to look at him before too much time passes," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "The way we look at it, he is an extremely talented player who is having a down year. He's 30 years old and in his physical prime. Obviously we are taking a chance he's better than his most recent performance."

Gomez's performance with the Astros this season includes a slash line of .210/.272/.322 with 100 strikeouts in 295 at-bats. But again, there can be a view of Gomez still being a talented player who is simply having a bad season. And there is no long-term financial risk to this signing, because Gomez is in the final year of a four-year, $28.3 million contract signed while he was with the Brewers.

• Banister: Gomez not here to be a backup

Gomez can also be an extremely positive clubhouse presence. He has an upbeat personality and he is a high-energy player. Gomez can be a focal point of attention simply by being himself. But that sort of high-visibility presence does not play well with teammates when the player in question is hitting. 210.

"I love the energy he plays with, I love the skill set, I love the two-way player," Banister said. "He can impact the game in multiple ways. Drop him in our lineup with the veteran core around him, and he has a chance to resurrect himself."

It would be a resurrection at this point. Gomez came to the Astros in 2015 along with pitcher Mike Fiers in a Trade Deadline deal that cost Houston four legitimate prospects. But Gomez was limited to 115 games in 2015 by injuries and did not approach his overall production with the Brewers. This season has been even further from the standard of play he set in Milwaukee.

Still, Gomez's age and his unique blend of talents argue against him being done. The Rangers are in first place in the American League West and have the best record in the AL, despite some serious adversity, including the end of Prince Fielder's career.

Signing Gomez and giving him a real chance to renew his career are moves that carry relatively little risk, but could contain substantial rewards. We'll know how this plays out soon enough.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.