The Nationals and Yan Gomes agreed to terms Wednesday night on a two-year, $10 million contract, ensuring the club will keep its productive catching tandem together for another season at a discounted price.
The deal isn’t official yet, but a source confirmed the two sides came to agreement Wednesday evening. ESPN.com was first to report the signing.
The Nationals had declined a $9 million club option on Gomes earlier this month, instead paying off a $1 million buyout, but did express interest in bringing the veteran back at a lower price. They were able to retain his services in part by guaranteeing another year, with Gomes now signed through 2021.
Gomes will again team up with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, hoping to provide at least as much offense as they did during their first season together, when they combined for 29 homers, 106 RBIs and a .743 OPS while starting a combined 160 regular season games.
The Nationals acquired both veterans last winter - Gomes via trade with the Indians, Suzuki as a free agent - and entered the season assuming Gomes would shoulder a bit more of the load than Suzuki. But when Gomes struggled at the plate early on, Suzuki wound up as the No. 1 catcher, working nearly every start by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Aníbal Sánchez.
Gomes became Patrick Corbin’s personal catcher while also typically pairing up with the No. 5 starter, but he took over daily duties in September after Suzuki suffered an elbow injury. His production at the plate surged down the stretch, and he posted a .900 OPS over his final 26 games, though his season totals (.223 average, 12 homers, 43 RBIs, .704 OPS) remained disappointing for the former All-Star with Cleveland.
Another Suzuki injury, this time his hip, thrust Gomes back into the spotlight in October, and he wound up starting seven postseason games (including the final four games of the World Series). He was behind the plate for the final out of the National League Division Series and the World Series, sticking the ball Daniel Hudson threw to strike out Michael Brantley for the championship-clinching moment in his back pocket as he ran to the mound to celebrate.
The 32-year-old, who in 2012 became the first Brazilian-born player to reach the major leagues, is a career .245 hitter with 99 homers, 351 RBIs and a .717 OPS. He won a Silver Slugger Award in 2014 and was an All-Star in 2018.
Though a complete breakdown of Gomes’ new contract isn’t yet known, he’ll be taking a pay cut from his 2019 salary of slightly more than $7 million. Suzuki, 36, made $4 million this season and will earn $6 million next season before becoming a free agent.
Had the Nationals wanted to explore another catching option, their choices dwindled in recent days. Yasmani Grandal (four years, $73 million with the White Sox), Travis d’Arnaud (two years, $16 million with the Braves) and Stephen Vogt (one year, $3 million with the Diamondbacks) all signed as free agents in the last week.
The Nationals didn’t view their internal catching options (Raudy Read, Tres Barrera) as ready for full-time big league duties and now can keep both young players in the minors and ready to be recalled if something happens to either Suzuki or Gomes.