Before free agency opened, Yan Gomes was arguably Washington’s most difficult decision. The team had to choose between paying $9 million to keep the timeshare catcher or forfeiting $1 million to get him off the roster. The Nationals decided to cut ties with Gomes, handing primary duties behind the plate to Kurt Suzuki — who became the personal catcher for Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Anibal Sanchez.
The organization paid a decent sum to acquire Gomes in the first place. Just under 12 months ago, Mike Rizzo parted with prospects Jefry Rodriguez, Daniel Johnson, and Andruw Monestario to add Cleveland’s former All-Star backstop. The plan was to give him the light majority of the reps at catcher — while keeping him and Suzuki fresh and stronger late in the season — but the man wearing Jayson Werth’s old number became the main man behind the dish.
Much like many players on this team, Gomes had a strong bat late in the regular season. He went eight-for-20 in the last two weeks of August, and slugged six home runs and five doubles in only 74 at bats during September. He created a strong case for himself entering the postseason.
In the end, his overall performance throughout the season won out in the wrong ways — in the playoffs and with this decision to cut ties with him. Truthfully, Gomes hasn’t been a formidable hitter since 2014, although his defensive game checks out favorably.
It would not be stunning if Gomes still cashed in close to the $9 million he was in line to earn from the Nationals in 2020. It would have to be from a team lower on the win curve, though. Few (if any) playoff teams would be satisfied with Gomes as their everyday catcher at this stage in his career — he will turn 33 years old next July.
Alternatively, he might be able to cash in a two-year contract for a slightly lower annual value.
In all likelihood, Gomes’ tenure in D.C. is over. However, a return shouldn’t be completely out of the picture — especially since the rest of the Nationals’ catching depth (Raudy Read and Tres Barrera) is extremely unproven at the big league level.
Quick footnote: Spencer Kieboom was quietly designated for assignment last month and subsequently elected free agency, removing himself from the organization’s catching equation.
Gomes could return to the role he served during the second half of 2019 (aside from when Suzuki was sidelined with an injury), but Washington will probably either turn to a cheaper veteran or pass the backup duties to Read.