Posted on November 28, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
If it’s not broke, the Washington Nationals aren’t trying to fix it. After winning the World Series with Yan Gomes behind the plate, the Nationals are going to keep things as is in 2020. The Nationals have reportedly reached an agreement to re-sign Gomes on a two-year deal worth $10 million. The new deal came after the Nationals declined his $9 million option for the 2020 season. Gomes becomes the latest free-agent catcher to sign a new deal, albeit one that will keep him with the same team.
Washington made a somewhat aggressive move last winter to acquire Gomes in a trade with the Cleveland Indians. The 32-year-old didn’t have his best offensive season, although he did hit 12 home runs and produce an OPS of .703 despite a .223 average. However, he continued to be an above-average defensive catcher, becoming a reliable receiver for the Washington pitching staff.
During the 2019 season, Gomes split time almost evenly with Kurt Suzuki. Gomes ended up getting a little bit more playing time, but the Nationals figure to continue the timeshare between the two veteran backstops next season. Suzuki ended up having one of the best offensive seasons of his career in 2019, hitting .264 with an OPS of .809. Neither is necessarily a standout offensive player, but the Nats got enough production from them, especially considering how reliable both are behind the plate.
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“Both [Suzuki] and [Gomes have] done an unbelievable job with the pitching staff. And we knew that when we got these two guys what they can do,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez during the World Series. “I’ve seen Suzuki from afar playing against him when he was in Atlanta, just handled that pitching staff, and Yan I’ve known for a lot of years, and what he does behind the plate.”
Ironically, Gomes has received the same two-year, $10 million deal that Suzuki received from Washington as a free agent last winter. With the contracts staggered, the Nationals will avoid losing both Suzuki and Gomes in the same year. Even if Suzuki moves on after the 2020 season, Washington will still have Gomes for 2021.
Having the two veterans locked down for another year gives the Nationals more time to develop prospects like Tres Barrera and Israel Pineda. Barrera is close to ready to play in the majors if there’s an injury to either Gomes or Suzuki next season while Pineda figures to need a couple of more years. Of course, there’s no reason to force either to the big leagues as long as Suzuki and Gomes are around. More importantly, much like last season, the Nationals have a catching duo they know can help them win a championship.
“We could have went for the big free agent everyday catcher, or get a trade for a younger, more everyday type of player, and we felt that the best bang for our buck was to go after both of these guys,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said about acquiring Gomes and Suzuki last offseason. “we identified them early in the offseason and really focused in on these two guys specifically and went after them.”