MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Barely a year after acquiring Carlos Gomez, the Houston Astros have let the two-time All-Star center fielder go amid a season-long slump.
The 30-year-old Gomez was designated for assignment Wednesday before the game in Minnesota, where he played two seasons at the beginning of his career.
Manager A.J. Hinch praised Gomez’s attitude despite the persistent struggles, but he was batting .210 with 100 strikeouts in 295 at-bats and a woeful .594 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. His contract was expiring at the end of the year.
“I just think he put a lot of pressure on himself to be perfect, and the harder he tried, sometimes the more difficult it became,” Hinch said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort. It wasn’t a lack of preparation. It wasn’t a lack of anything other than production on the field.”
Gomez and starting pitcher Mike Fiers arrived from Milwaukee the day before the non-waiver trade deadline last year for four prospects, none of whom have reached the major leagues with the Brewers yet. But Gomez, who was making $9 million this season, will go down as one of the franchise’s biggest busts.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work. I know he carried the burden of being the big acquisition in July. He often spoke of feeling responsible and trying to play better for the team, knowing that he was a big addition last July during the playoff race,” Hinch said. “We can poke holes at guys, especially on their way out the door, but I’ll choose to remember the more positive impact — the home run in New York in the playoffs, the continual energy behind the scenes, the selflessness in talking to some of the young players.”
The Astros were a surprise AL wild-card team last year and after beating the Yankees fell to the World Series champion Kansas City Royals in five games in the next round. Gomez hit .242 with 13 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases in 41 games for the Astros after the trade.
This season, he’s been badly off track. He even made two glaring gaffes in the field Monday, his last game for Houston, by letting a single skip by him for a two-base error that allowed one run to score and losing a routine fly ball that became an RBI triple during a three-run fifth inning for the victorious Twins.
“He wasn’t having a good year, obviously, but at least he tried hard,” second baseman Jose Altuve said.
Trying too hard has long been one of Gomez’s troubles, a multi-talented athlete who has inconsistently harnessed his exuberance.
“We really wanted to start to play the guys who we felt were going to help us on a nightly basis more than the others, and that’s not knocking Carlos Gomez at all,” Hinch said. “I think he brought his best every single day to try to help us win.”
The Astros recalled right-handed reliever Jandel Gustave from Triple-A Fresno to fill Gomez’s roster spot. Jake Marisnick will take over in center field, and Tony
Kemp will get plenty of time in left field. Colby Rasmus is on the disabled list with an ear problem.
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