Gomez, Fiers to Houston for prospects
MILWAUKEE -- This time it isn't a drill: The Brewers have traded Carlos Gomez.
Not to the Mets, who nixed a trade for Gomez late Wednesday over concerns about his health, but to the Astros, who sent four top prospects -- two of whom ranked in MLBPipeline.com's top 100 -- to the Brewers on Thursday for Gomez, right-hander Mike Fiers and international signing dollars.
For Gomez, who teared up while discussing the end of a Brewers tenure that spanned six seasons and saw him blossom into a two-time All-Star, it meant saying goodbye to teammates for the second time in less than 24 hours.
"When they called me to the office, I thought they were calling me to explain what happened yesterday," Gomez said. "They tell me, 'Now you get traded.' I go, 'Is this for two or three hours, or the real one?' We were laughing a little bit. They said, 'No, it's true. You're being traded to the Houston Astros.'
"I've been traded two times [previously], and I understand the game. I'm not surprised. I know [the Brewers are] trying to rebuild, and if they trade me, they can get a lot of good prospects. Good for the Brewers, and good for the Astros. I think everybody is happy."
Instead of receiving two Major Leaguers -- pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores -- from the Mets, the Brewers added four upper-level Minor Leaguers from the Astros, all of whom were on MLB.com's list of top 30 Houston prospects. Milwaukee received outfielders Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, right-hander Adrian Houser and left-hander Josh Hader.
The Astros also acquired slot No. 76 in the 2015-16 international pool.
The trade came together, general manager Doug Melvin said, after the Brewers agreed to include Fiers and the Astros agreed to include Phillips, who was No. 2 on Houston's most recent prospect list, and 39th in baseball. A left-handed hitter, he batted .321 in 31 games at Double-A Corpus Christi this season after being promoted from high Class A Lancaster. At Lancaster, Phillips hit 15 home runs with 53 RBIs in 66 games.
Santana, rated Houston's No. 7 prospect and 87th overall, saw sporadic time with the Astros the past two seasons and batted .256 with two home runs in 14 games.
Santana was assigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The other players were sent to Double-A Biloxi, which is already stocked with top young players, including top Brewers prospect Orlando Arcia.
To replace Gomez and Fiers on the active roster, the Brewers recalled outfielder Logan Schafer and utility man Elian Herrera.
Melvin said the key to the deal was "getting four players who are at [a higher] level, as opposed to getting guys at Rookie ball and there's still a long development process. You put them with the group of guys we have at Biloxi, and that's a pretty good group of guys. Some of this was timing, trying to have players come together."
Hader was 3-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 65 1/3 innings at Corpus Christi and came in as the Astros' No. 14 prospect. Houser spent time in both Lancaster and Corpus Christi this season, combining to go 3-4 in 19 appearances. He was the Astros' No. 21 prospect.
Gomez will join the Astros on Friday. He is hitting .262/.328/.423 this season with eight homers. The 29-year-old center fielder and two-time All-Star will be a free agent after the 2016 season.
Fiers, 30, is 5-9 with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP this season. He has spent all five of his big league seasons with the Brewers, posting a 3.66 ERA and 21 wins in 71 games, and won't be arbitration-eligible until after next season.
"It's a big surprise," said Fiers. "I don't know what to think right now. I'm just happy for the opportunity to play for Houston."
Medical staffers from both teams conferred to exchange data on the players involved before the trade was official. The Astros had none of the same reservations, according to Melvin, as the Mets expressed about the health of Gomez's right hip and leg, which cost him two stretches of starts in May and June but had not been an issue for more than a month.
It was those concerns that led the Mets to nix the trade for Gomez the night before, stunning both Melvin and the Brewers, who had already informed Gomez he was on the verge of being dealt.
On Thursday afternoon, Gomez was obliged to defend his own health.
"I don't have [any] problems," Gomez said. "I'm playing, and I feel really sexy about it."
Gomez used that word often during a Brewers tenure that saw him develop from a raw prospect into a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner. His best moment came when he scored the winning run in the decisive Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series against the D-backs, two years before he signed a four-year contract extension in March 2013 that gave him and his growing family financial security.
Twice during a five-minute conversation outside the clubhouse on Thursday, his eyes filled with tears.
"We are human. We have feelings. We're not robots," he said. "You feel emotional, because there are a lot of good things that I've been through in this organization."
In thanking the Brewers, he said, "They believed in my skills. They believed I could get better."