- While I expected the Brewers to snag a young pitcher for Hardy, I like the move for both sides. Center field was certainly a need for the Brewers with Mike Cameron eligible for free agency. Haudricourt notes that the money the Brewers saved on Cameron will probably go toward starting pitching. While Gomez hasn't had offensive success in his career, his stellar defense is unquestionable. He'll be eligible for arbitration this winter as a Super Two player, and is under team control through 2013.
Hardy is a huge addition for the Twins, who entered the offseason needing upgrades at shortstop, third base, and second base. Due to an August demotion by the Brewers, Hardy is under team control for 2010 and 2011 (Hardy says there are "no hard feelings.") He slumped offensively this year, but maintained his strong defense.
If you've got an arbitration-eligible player, you would much prefer one whose strength is defense rather than offense, because that's a more difficult case for the player's side to make. Gomez's lifetime on-base percentage is .292, his slugging percentage is .346, and those are the numbers for which he'll mostly be paid. And yes, Gomez does play fantastic defense, even better than Cameron. (I ranked Gomez fourth on my Fielding Bible ballot, and he might have been higher if he'd played more.)
But what a zero, offensively! Yes, he's just now turning 24. But however young, you'd like to see a bit of progress, right? Gomez's seasonal OBPs: .288, .296, .287. That looks like a guy who just doesn't get it, at all. Sure, he did much better while still just a baby in both Double- and Triple-A, but those seasons are starting to seem like a long time ago.
Still, the Brewers need a center fielder and Gomez is cheap (particularly compared to Cameron). Between the money they won't be spending on Cameron and the money they won't be spending on Hardy, the Brewers have gained a fair degree of payroll flexibility, which is the lifeblood of every financially challenged general manager.
And of course you have to love this deal for the Twins, who got a player they really wanted (for good reason) in exchange for a guy they didn't really want at all. That said, unless they get another outfielder, this move means more playing time for Delmon Young, and it's not at all clear that that's a good thing. And if anything should happen to Michael Cuddyer ...