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Yan Gomes made his contract extension look like a steal already

And that is about the only steal that happens when Gomes is around. A great bat, stellar defense, and excellent work with the pitching staff combine to make Gomes a star.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

We've been running through the 2014 season for each member of the Indians and key prospects from their farm system. (You can find every entry in the series here.) Now we've reached a countdown of the top ten players on the team, as voted by the Let's Go Tribe staff.

#3: Yan Gomes

  • Position: Catcher
  • Age: 27
  • Acquired: Via trade with Blue Jays (11/3/12) with Mike Aviles for Esmil Rogers
  • Contract status: $1 million in 2015, under contract through 2019 for $21 million total, team options for 2020 ($9 million) and 2021 ($11 million)
When a team goes and signs a player to a long-term deal after just 433 MLB PA (even if the most recent 322 of them were really good), there is risk that the contract won't work out. Guys get paid based on a career year all the time. And that made 2014 an important season for Yan Gomes.

Coming off a solid 3.6 WAR season in which he established himself as the Indians full-time catcher, Gomes did, sort of, take a step back - but where he landed was still pretty darn great.

In 2013, Gomes posted a .342 wOBA and 130 wRC+, along with a 3.6 WAR, making him the 7th most valuable catcher in baseball (among those with 300+ PA), despite playing just 88 games. The first half of 2014, a newly minted millionaire with his first-ever full-time MLB job, Gomes was again a top-tier catcher (6th in WAR among players with 150+ PA), but his wRC+ (111) and wOBA(.325) had both fallen off. He was still playing excellent defense, but his bat was more good than great.

During that first half, his BABIP, which had been .342 in 2013 and was consistently high throughout his Minor League career, dropped to .306. There was good reason to believe that this was the new normal. And this would have been well worth the money the Indians are paying him the next few years. Instead though, Gomes stepped back up. His second half featured a .354 BABIP, thanks to a 25.5% LD rate, and he posted a 137 wRC+ and .363 wOBA. He was third in WAR among all MLB catchers.

For the year, Gomes ended up with a .278/.313/.472 line, a .340 wOBA and 121 wRC+. He was one of the better defensive catchers in baseball, as well. Depending on what stats you choose, there are only four catchers who were top ten in both offensive AND defensive value this year - Russell Martin, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Ruiz, and Gomes. In addition to being in that class, he was 4th in WAR among catchers (behind Lucroy, Buster Posey, and Martin).

And keep in mind that WAR does not account for pitch framing (which Gomes rates very well at) or a catcher's overall impact on a pitching staff. Just yesterday, Jordan Bastian at posted a piece on Gomes and Corey Kluber, in which Kluber was quoted saying, "I probably can't put a value on [Gomes's role in Kluber's season]. I think he was a huge part of it. He'll try to navigate away from that credit or praise as much as he can, but in my mind, he was as big a part of it as anybody."

Kluber was posted 7.3 WAR and was a deserving Cy Young winner. Michael Brantley posted 6.6 WAR and was a deserving top-three MVP finisher. Yan Gomes didn't get a single MVP vote. Gomes finished third in our Indians top ten list, and he finished third on the team in WAR. The two guys ahead of him have certainly earned it.

But, if you ask me, no player created more value for the 2014 Indians than Yan Gomes. When your second or third best bat is also maybe your best defensive player AND played "as big a part as anybody" in a Cy Young season, that sounds like a team MVP to me.

2014 grade: A+


2015 Outlook

For more than 200 games and 800 PA, Yan Gomes has been a rock for the Tribe, and there is zero reason to expect any less in 2015. I'd look for something that looks an awful lot like his 2014 - 20+ HR, solid AVG and SLG, less than ideal OBP, elite catcher defense, and a key component for a successful pitching staff. I'd expect him to get another 120+ starts behind the plate, and a handful at DH, as well.