While the Washington Nationals await the big decision from free agent Bryce Harper, they’ve quietly added a pair of quality catchers that could give them the best catching duo in the National League.
The latest being Yan Gomes, who according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman was acquired from the Cleveland Indians Friday in exchange for minor league outfielder Daniel Johnson. The Nationals have confirmed the trade.
The #Nats have acquired catcher Yan Gomes from the Cleveland Indians.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) December 1, 2018
The news comes less than two weeks after Kurt Suzuki, another productive and respected catcher, was signed to a two-year, $10 million deal.
The veteran duo will effectively replace Matt Wieters, who was a disappointment after signing a two-year, $21.5 million deal prior to the 2017 season. Together, Gomes and Suzuki will earn a little over $12 million in 2019. So Washington has seemingly upgraded the position with two solid catchers for a little more than the price of one underperforming catcher.
Gomes, 31, would likely be the preferred defensive catcher. He caught 24 runners stealing in 2017, which ranked second in the American League. And it’s not because teams relentlessly challenged him. Gomes threw out runners at 42.1 percent clip. Suzuki’s also heralded for his defensive work, particularly his pitch-framing. Both catchers handled good pitching staffs in Cleveland and Atlanta respectively, and will now have the honor of catching Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Offensively, Gomes and the 35-year-old Suzuki have provided similar production. Suzuki has hit 10 points higher (.258 to .248) throughout his 12-year MLB career. Suzuki has hit 31 homers over the last two seasons while Gomes has hit 30.
What the Nationals seem to covet here is consistency and reliability at the position. Something that they haven’t had since making the switch from Wilson Ramos to Wieters two years ago.
While neither catcher is likely to put up All-Star numbers this season, there won’t be a noted dropoff with either player in the lineup. Over the long haul that should give Washington an edge at an important position.
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