Indians trade Gomez to Pirates, acquire prospect
The Indians completed a trade today sending right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez to the Pirates in exchange for outfielder Quincy Latimore.
Gomez, 24, had been designated for assignment last Wednesday to make room on the roster for newly acquired free agent pitcher Brett Myers. The Indians actually claimed Russ Canzler when they designated Gomez, but the move was made because of the Myers pickup. They had ten days to trade, release or outright him to the minors, but had yet to put him on waivers because they felt they could trade him and receive some value in return.
Gomez went 5-8 with a 5.96 ERA in 20 appearances (17 starts) for the Indians last season, and in 42 career Major League appearances is 14-16 with a 5.18 ERA (206.2 IP, 241 H, 28 HR, 71 BB, 112 K). He still has potential to be a solid back of the rotation starter in the big leagues, but his inconsistency combined with poor career peripheral numbers (1.51 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, 76 ERA+) along with the fact he was out of options led to his departure from the Indians.
Latimore, 23, hit .252 with 15 homers, 71 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and .754 OPS in 126 games for the Pirates Double-A Altoona affiliate last season. Originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 Draft out of high school, in six minor league seasons he has hit .252 with 66 homers, 337 RBI, 50 stolen bases, and .730 OPS.
Latimore is a marginal prospect that packs some good pop into a small frame, though has had trouble with making consistent contact and avoiding strikeouts (four straight seasons of 105+ strikeouts). He has average speed and a solid arm, but his defense is not good enough for center field so he is best suited for left field. He will be in the mix this spring for an outfield spot at Double-A Akron or Triple-A Columbus.
There is still no word whether outfielder Thomas Neal has cleared waivers or not, but even if he does, he is still expected to decline an outright assignment and declare free agency.
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Latimore’s a do-everything-well-enough player without having a true standout tool. He show’s above-average power, average-ish speed that hasn’t necessarily translated well on the base paths, below-average plate discipline, and the ability to play multiple outfield positions.
With that being said, Latimore will never sniff more than a cup o’ coffee with the Indians, or any big league club for that matter.
Last season at an age-appropriate level of competition, he hit .252/.321/.433 with 15 homeruns and 10 stolen bases. His total offensive production was just 7% better than the league average. In fact, he’s never really had a strong offensive season; his best was two years ago, when he topped the league average by 19%.
If you are looking for a so-called silver lining to his lack of a ceiling, it’s that he’s handled lefties fairly well over the last two seasons, hitting .269/.329/.514.
As for Neal, he’s a personal favorite of mine. And I think the Indians did themselves a fairly sizeable disservice by not handing the left field job over to him as soon as the team started its spiral downward. Mind you, he’s not a regular everyday player, but he’s certainly capable of being a valuable fourth outfielder, someone with a peak of maybe 1.0-win.