MINNEAPOLIS -- Carlos Gómez, the polarizing center fielder the Astros acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline from the Brewers a year ago to be a key piece of their playoff run, was designated for assignment Wednesday afternoon, ending his disappointing run in Houston.
Gomez was hitting .210 with five homers, 29 RBIs, a .272 on-base percentage and 100 strikeouts in 295 at-bats this season and had become a liability on the field. He misplayed two fly balls in Monday's loss to the Twins, which proved to be the final time he was in the Astros' lineup.
"This is has nothing to do with Carlos' effort," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Carlos has put in 100 percent. We all see how much he enjoys playing the game and how much he cares about what happens. It's one of those situations where for whatever reason it didn't work out the way here he wanted to and we wanted to, and we felt it was the best interest of the organization and the team to move on and potentially get a fresh start somewhere else."
The Astros, who have 10 days to trade, release or outright Gomez to the Minor Leagues, recalled hard-throwing right-handed relief pitcher Jandel Gustave from Triple-A Fresno, giving them nine rookies on their roster. The Astros are on the hook for the remainder of Gomez's $9 million salary unless a team trades for him or claims him off waivers.
"It's not a secret that I wasn't doing my job," Gomez told MLB.com. "I'm really disappointed in myself. The organization traded for me because they needed a center fielder, and they gave me all the opportunity and I didn't do my job. I feel bad about this. I'm a hard worker and every day I do my best, and I know being released is really tough for me, but I thank you to the Astros. They always believed I could help this team win games and I didn't do it. When this happens, you have to move on."
Gomez was just two years removed from his second consecutive All-Star season with the Brewers, but the Astros didn't get that production. He hit .242 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 41 games with Houston last year, missing much of September with an oblique injury. He homered for the Astros in their American League Wild Card win over the Yankees.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Gomez put pressure on himself to be perfect, especially in the wake of the trade and the value the Astros gave to the Brewers. The move opens up more playing time for center fielder Jake Marisnick, who has hit .301 since July 1, but Hinch said playing time will come down to performance.
"We really wanted to start to play the guys we felt like were going to help us on a nightly basis more than the others," he said. "That's not knocking Carlos Gomez at all. He brought his best every single day that he could to try to help us win. The roster construction is going to change over the next week to 10 days, and he was starting to be on the outside looking in."
The Astros traded for Gomez and right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers from the Brewers on July 30, 2015, in exchange for left-handed pitcher Josh Hader, right-hander Adrian Houser, outfielder Brett Phillips and outfielder Domingo Santana. Hader and Phillips were two of the Astros' top prospects.
"The play on the field was not what we expected," Luhnow said. "I don't know if anybody could have forecasted a change like that. We didn't. We expected him to continue to produce at a high level. From that standpoint, it's disappointing, but you can't win them all. Some trades are going to work out and some aren't. We did the trade for the right reason, to get us in the playoffs last year and help us win the playoffs and we did accomplish that to a certain extent. This year it hasn't worked out."
All-Star second baseman José Altuve said Gomez's passion will be missed.
"He wasn't having a good year, obviously, but at least he tried hard," he said. "Everybody in the clubhouse goes out there and tries hard. It didn't feel good for him. Nothing was going good for him this year and he knew, he felt bad. I tried to keep him in a good mood to go out there and help the team and things happen. I don't think this is the end of his career. I think he's going to play long enough in the league and he's going to keep doing what he was doing before this year.
Gustave, a 23-year-old who can throw 100 mph, was 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA and three saves in four opportunities in 41 games at Fresno. He might not be with the Astros long considering veteran Luke Gregerson could be activated as soon as this weekend.
"I feel so excited," said Gustave, who's the Astros' 29th-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline.