Now that a day has passed, and Brewers' GM Doug Melvin has spoken about it, it's time to figure out what the acquisition of Carlos Gomez means for the Brewers this offseason.
Melvin commented at his press conference yesterday that he received no offers for pitching that he felt was worth trading Hardy for. Gomez fit a need for the Brewers, and he was comfortable enough with the offer to make the deal.
Melvin tried to get Clay Buchholz or Daniel Bard, but Boston was only willing to part with Michael Bowden. Buchholz would have stepped right into the rotation behind Yovani Gallardo. Bard would have been a great arm in the bullpen, and he could have been a future closer after Trevor Hoffman left.
While Bowden may not be as well-known as Buchholz or Bard, he's still a very promising pitcher. He was ranked as the number-two prospect in the Red Sox system by Baseball America. Although he struggled in Boston this year, he made 24 starts for Pawtucket and finished with a 4-6 record and an ERA of 3.13. He projected to a number three or four starter in the majors.
While most are in agreement that the Twins got the better end of the trade, even those in the Twins' organization feel that Gomez could still turn into a very good player for the Brewers.
Melvin stated that Gomez coming to Milwaukee means the end of Mike Cameron's time in Milwaukee. Cameron is a free agent, and Melvin feels that money that could go to Cameron would be better served going towards free agent pitching.
Even in the best case scenario, this is a very risky move for Melvin. Cameron will be 37-years old when 2010 begins, but he is also a safe bet for an offense that finished third in the National League. In addition to a very good glove in center field, one could pencil him in for 60-plus extra base hits, 70-plus RBI, and 65-plus runs scored.
Gomez will cover much more ground that Cameron. He also has a very good arm. Melvin is hoping Gomez's great defense will be able to help improve the pitching staff. More importantly, he is also 13-years Cameron's junior. The Brewers were old in a couple positions, but Gomez will only be 24 at the start of next season.
Gomez qualified as a super-two player, meaning he will be eligible for arbitration this winter. It will be the first of four arbitration eligible years for him. He will make only a fraction of the $10 million Cameron made in 2009.
The wild-card for Gomez will be his bat. He must raise his career .246 batting average and .292 on-base percentage if he wants to remain a long-term starter for the Brewers. If he struggles this season, Lorenzo Cain should be ready for a shot by 2011.
By trading Hardy and not re-signing Cameron, the Brewers will save anywhere between $10-15 million in 2010. According to Melvin, all that money will be allocated towards starting pitching.
Most of the pitchers out there have been discussed already, and there are several options that could be obtained in a relatively cost-efficient manner. If Melvin can do this, the Gomez trade becomes more appealing.
Melvin could decide to throw a long-term, high-money contract at a pitcher as well. While reading this, Brewer fans are already envisioning another Jeff Suppan-type contract. In no way can he make another mistake like he did with Suppan.
If management is serious about trying to sign Prince Fielder long-term, they need to keep as much money as possible freed up for Fielder. Melvin needs to avoid the impulse of getting into a bidding war against other teams for John Lackey, Jarrod Washburn, and Jason Marquis.
The Brewers could still acquire pitching via trade. Mat Gamel, Angel Salome, and to a lesser degree Brett Lawrie could also be dealt for a controllable, inexpensive starter. While Gamel could get the best return in a trade, Salome may be the most likely dealt. Jonathan Lucroy has passed in on the organizational depth chart and is playing very well in the Arizona Fall League.
Brewer fans may never be happy with the return Doug Melvin received for JJ Hardy. They need to remember that a mid-market baseball team must be creative to remain competitive over the long-term. Carlos Gomez gives Milwaukee a defensive anchor in the outfield that will be cheap for the next four seasons. Now the real offseason will begin for Doug Melvin in his quest to improve the pitching staff.
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