The Brewers avoided arbitration with Carlos Gomez Tuesday afternoon, signing him to a one-year, $2 million deal. He’s the second Brewer to avoid going to arby (George Kottaras was the first), and six remain.
$2 million might seem like a bit much for a guy who hit .225/.276/.403 while missing a good chunk of the season with a broken collarbone, but Gomez should be well worth it. His glove alone will make him worth the money, and — I know, we say this every year — if Gomez can give the team anything with the bat, he’ll be even more valuable.
Last year, Gomez was 16 runs above average in Defensive Runs Saved. Ten runs is roughly one win, meaning Gomez’s glove in center alone was worth nearly two wins. When it comes to Wins Above Replacement, Gomez’s glove was the driving factor in his 2.0 FanGraphs WAR and his 1.7 Baseball-Reference WAR. If the open-market value for 1 WAR is roughly $5 million, you could say Gomez is five times more valuable than what he’ll be getting paid in 2012.
If that sounds crazy, it’s because good defense has always been undervalued, even in the open market. If you want proof of this, look no further than the fact that Gomez — an elite defender in center — will be making the same amount of money this year as Yuniesky Betancourt. For those that want to argue that Yuni’s paycheck is being driven by his bat more than his glove, Gomez outproduced Yuni in just about everything but batting average last season, even slugging.
Is Gomez still a maddeningly inconsistent player? Sure. Are we going to drive ourselves crazy with the “what if he puts it all together?” questions? Probably. But as I (and quite a few other people, it seems) came to realize in the past year or so, once you accept Gomez for what he IS instead of getting hung up on what he isn’t or what he should be, you grow to appreciate him. He still has the patience of a little leaguer at the plate and runs the bases like an over-caffeinated puppy, but he’s a defensive ace and goes a long way in making Ryan Braun and Corey Hart look better in the corners.
For $2 million, you couldn’t buy a better defensive center fielder.