As our offseason coverage kicks into high gear, we’re going to review each significant player on the Nationals roster. We continue today with Yan Gomes, who had a rough regular season but stepped up in September and October when Kurt Suzuki was injured.
PLAYER REVIEW: YAN GOMES
Age on opening day 2020: 32
How acquired: Traded from Indians for Jefry Rodríguez, Daniel Johnson and Andruw Monasterio
MLB service time: 7 years, 83 days
2019 salary: $7,083,334
Contract status: Free agent
2019 stats: 97 G, 358 PA, 314 AB, 36 R, 70 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 2 SB, 0 CS, 38 BB, 84 SO, .223 AVG, .316 OBP, .389 SLG, .704 OPS, 78 OPS+, 5 DRS, 0.8 fWAR, 1.3 bWAR
2019 postseason stats: 11 G, 31 PA, 29 AB, 3 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 SO, .241 AVG, .290 OBP, .310 SLG, .601 OPS
Quotable: “Obviously, he’s played a lot of games and done it before. Shoot, I’m his biggest cheerleader right now. He’s been doing unbelievable. He’s hitting, his defense, obviously everybody knows about his defense, handling pitchers. It’s been fun to watch, and it’s been nice to have him come in and do the job he’s been doing.” - Suzuki on Gomes, Sept. 21
2019 analysis: When the season began, the Nationals expected Gomes to get more playing time than Suzuki, certainly to regularly catch Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. But when he struggled to hit early on, he saw his playing time reduced and over time he typically only caught Patrick Corbin and the No. 5 starter.
Gomes did finally find his stroke in September, and his timing was impeccable. With Suzuki sidelined due to an elbow injury, the Nationals needed Gomes to take over everyday catching duties, and he responded by posting a .900 OPS over his final 26 games.
Another injury to Suzuki, this time his hip, opened the door again for Gomes to step up during the postseason. And he again responded, with seven hits in his final 25 at-bats, two of those doubles. More importantly, he worked exceptionally well with Scherzer and Strasburg in Games 6 and 7 of the World Series. And wouldn’t you know he would up with the ball in his hand as the Nationals clinched their first championship.
2020 outlook: The Nationals were willing to give up three young players in exchange for Gomes, in part because they knew they controlled his rights for two more seasons beyond this one. But they elected not to pick up his $9 million option for 2020, instead buying him out for $1 million and making him a free agent.
So, now what? Suzuki may be returning on the second year of his contract, but the Nationals will need another catcher. And not just a pure backup, but someone who could share the workload and potentially take over No. 1 duties at some point along the way. That’s exactly what Gomes did for them this year.
Perhaps they can get him back on a more affordable deal. He would probably be agreeable to a return, provided the price was fair. If not, the Nationals are going to have to find catching help from somewhere else.