In keeper and dynasty leagues, keeping one on the present and the other on the future is the norm. Balancing now with later results in some difficult decisions, and moving a player of Carlos Gomez’s ilk (he ranked eighth with a 7.31 average pick in NFBC drafts entering the year) amidst a disappointing season is the type of difficult decision gamers are presented. His value isn’t as high as it was entering the season, but there are a variety of reasons why I’d suggest moving him now as opposed to waiting for him to — hopefully — go on a heater.
For starters, Gomez is healthy-ish. He’s been battling a hip injury and received a day off on Thursday after playing Tuesday and Wednesday. Gomez has already been on the disabled list once this year with a hamstring injury, and he’s battled hip and groin issues in recent weeks. Missing time is nothing new to Gomez. Last year’s 644 plate appearances marked a career high, and he’s bested the 600 plate appearance threshold just one other time in his career (2008). Waiting for him to improve upon his modest production to date requires owners to cross their fingers and hope he doesn’t land on the disabled list once again.
There are other concerns, too. The first is that he continues to put up mediocre numbers and further distances himself from his excellent numbers the last three years that drove his draft stock into the middle of the first round. As it stands now, there are likely owners willing to “buy low,” on Gomez’s services in the hopes he goes on a heater. Honestly, that’s a defensible position to take as well, in some respects. Gomez’s 9.8% HR/FB rate is a bit unlucky and is well below marks of 14.3% in 2012, 16.4% in 2013 and 13.4% in 2014. His average homer run and fly ball distance has hovered between 286.64 feet (last year) and a 289.31 feet (2013) distance in 2013 with his current season mark sitting at 288.39 feet, per Baseball Heat Maps. Judging by the average batted ball distance, he should expect more of his fly balls to reach the seats, and savvy owners looking to acquire him won’t miss that.
That said, his 43.5% GB is his highest mark since 2011, and a ground ball isn’t going to find the seats. Gomez’s hard hit ball percentage is down substantially this year as well. While I do expect Gomez to hit for more power, it’s not a certainty. More alarming than his power being down, though, is that he’s not stealing bases at a high rate this year. Given his injuries, that’s understandable. Gomez has only six steals this year, and he’s been horribly inefficient getting caught stealing four times. Perhaps there is an ambitious owner in your league expecting him to go on a stolen base tear when he’s healthier. It’s definitely worth exploring.
Finally, the motivation for writing this piece was actually concerns about Gomez being dealt before the MLB trade deadline. It’s a great enough motivating factor that it spurred me to move him in a keeper league. Since 2012, Miller Park has ranked in the top five for right-handed batter homer park factor each season. It’s not just a great ballpark for hitting homers in either. Miller Park has ranked no worse than tied for sixth in basic park factor for run scoring in the previously mentioned time frame. In other words, it’s hard to envision Gomez getting dealt to a team with a more hitter-friendly ballpark than the one he calls home currently.
Articles advocating dealing a player but failing to suggest possible trade targets always feel a bit light to me, so I’ll list a few ideas. Gamers who can stomach the batting average drop should give Steven Souza a looksy. I wouldn’t make a one-for-one swap, but dealing Gomez for a deal centering around Souza is fine.
Another player who is worth targeting is former Milwaukee Brewer and fellow 29-year-old outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Cain’s stolen base contributions this season (13 in 16 attempts) aren’t completely unexpected since he snagged 28 in 33 attempts last year. His power, however, is a shocker. Entering this season, Cain had ripped just 17 homers in 1,369 plate appearances. This year, he has hit six homers in 266 plate appearances. Cain is hitting more fly balls and is posting a hard hit ball percentage that’s 10% higher than last year. Also, he’s enjoying a monstrous surge in average home run and fly ball distance (281.02 feet this year compared to 260.65 feet in 2013 and 260.79 feet in 2012). The perceived values of Gomez and Cain should allow you to squeeze a bit more out of Cain’s owner than a simple one for one swap. Gomez owners certainly aren’t restricted to moving him for one of the two outfielders I’ve suggested, but I would encourage selling him now.
You can follow Josh on Twitter @bchad50.