The Brewers just completed a swap of J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez with the Twins. I initially liked this deal for the Twins, but after finishing the post I see why this deal makes sense for the Brewers.
Hardy really had a bad year, last year. And the Brewers had the guts to send him to the minors—to work on his game and delay his free agency. It’s possible he’ll go all Marcus Giles and never hit again, but I doubt it. Combined with his above-average defense at shortstop, even if he just pulls it together to hit a mid-.700s OPS, he should continue to be worth his salary. Last season, he earned $4.65 million. He’s got two more years of arbitration, and he might get a pay cut instead of a raise. I’ve got him valued at about $6.5 million based on a three-year average. But if he’s somewhere in his 2007-2008 range, he’ll be an $8-9 million player.
Gomez is a nice defender at a premium position, but he couldn’t hit in the minors any more than he can hit in the majors. But, his defense is the only thing that keeps him valuable. His 2008, when he had a +29 Plus/Minus, was worth just around $8 million; but I think that’s the high end of his production and that he’s more of a $7 million player. I believe he’s got one more year of purely-reserved service before beginning arbitration, so he is cheap and controlled for several more years. The down side is that one injury, and this kid is toast. He can’t move over to a corner. You’ve just got to hope he learns how to hit (unlikely) or stays healthy.
I tried real hard to pick a winner on this one, but I don’t think that I can.