By Abraham Jaroszewski

Carlos Gomez will roam center field at Miller Park for at least the next four seasons after signing a three year extension worth $24 million. That combined with Gomez’s $4.3 million salary for the 2013 season agreed to before arbitration, brings the total value of the extension to 4 years/$28.3 million. But is that money well spent?

First a little history.

Gomez was one of the premier prospects the Mets gave up in their 2008 trade for Johan Santana. But after a disappointing two seasons in which he accumulated 2.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement value) in ’08 and 1 WAR in ’09, Gomez came to the Brewers in a trade for J.J. Hardy.

I was vehemently against the trade at the time because while Gomez was a 5-tool player who really only contributed with the glove and base-running, Hardy was a two-tool player whose fielding and power at a premium position added up to a very valuable player.

In Gomez’s first season with Milwaukee, he logged 318 plate appearances in 97 games in a position largely in flux for the Brewers. Jim Edmonds hit .286/.350/.493 in 240 PA totaling a 2.5 WAR, Lorenzo Cain was brought up late in the summer and hit .306/.348/.415 in 158 PA for a 1.2 WAR. Gomez was the least valuable of the three, hitting just .247/.298/.357 for a .7 WAR.

The Brewers traded Edmonds in August and Cain was dealt to the Royals in December in the Zack Greinke trade. Gomez appeared to be in line for a full-time gig—and was for much of the first month—but Nyjer Morgan was signed in spring training and he proved to be a revelation in CF as the right-handed half of a platoon. Gomez finished with 94 games and 258 PA.

The platoon seemed like it would continue into 2012, but Morgan’s BABIP-fueled 2011 crashed and burned in 2012. Gomez took advantage of the full-time role in center, especially in the second half, putting up his best season to date, with a .260/.305/.463 line and a 3.5 WAR.

But what about the next four seasons?

Below are the projections for Carlos Gomez for the 2013 season combined with his career and 2012 slash lines.

Career 2130 .247 .294 .379 .296 10.2
2012 452 .260 .305 .463 .329 3.5
Steamer 458 .247 .301 .404 .306 1.9
Bill James 372 .251 .302 .407 .303
Oliver 460 .257 .314 .403 .313 2.0
Fans 553 .252 .297 .393 .300 2.7
ZiPS 410 .249 .302 .418 .311 2.2

None of the projection systems are buying the power spike from Gomez last season, with ZiPS the only systems that are even buying much improvement in the power department from Gomez at all.

But even if the power production from the second half of 2012 is a mirage, this contract still has the chance to be a solid investment for the Brewers. Even without his power, Gomez’s base-running and defense make him a 2 WAR player in CF. If you consider the cost of a win to be roughly $3.5 million means Gomez will be a bargain this season, properly paid in 2014 and slightly overpaid in 2015 and 2016. And that’s without accounting for inflation from MLB’s recent re-negotiated national television contracts.

I was against a Gomez extension because I expected him to get something like 4 years/$36 million. Angel Pagan got a 4 year/$40 million contract from the San Francisco Giants coming off a 4.8 WAR season. Last season, Gomez finished 11th among CF in WAR, two spots in front of B.J. Upton who received 5 years/$75 million from Atlanta.

Overall, I think the contract is very fair from the Brewers’ perspective. Even if just a bit of the power spike is legit, the Brewers probably will break even. And if Gomez’s power spike is the start of him finally realizing the immense potential he showed as a prospect, they very well may have gotten a steal. Of course, Gomez’s all-out mentality does typically earn him at least one or two trips to the disabled list every season. If he were to become more seriously injured, it could negatively impact his speed both in the field and on the bases. Considering the Brewers are getting Gomez’s prime seasons and two at the tail end, they should not have to worry about an erosion of skill—barring a serious injury. But the Brewers are very high on Logan Schafer, who serves as a nice 4th OF for when Gomez is healthy and insurance should he get injured. Schafer is due only the league minimum for the next three seasons, serving as a perfect replacement level player.

Overall Grade: B+

Abraham Jaroszewski on Twitter: @gbmb34