There's hardly enough available talent to justify an entry in our free agency series on catchers, but I'm something of a completionist, so catcher is darn well getting an entry!
Russell Martin has been a strong defender for some time now, and in 2014 he put up the best offensive numbers of his career. At 31 years old, he's probably bordering on too old to be worth big money, but he was hitting the market at the right time, not just in terms of his career year, but in terms of there being few other catchers would have much interest in.
There's a reasonable case that the second best catcher hitting the market was Nick Hundley. If your response to that name is "Who?!" ...my point exactly.
Sure enough, Martin got the Blue Jays to give him a 5-year, $82 million contract only two weeks into the offseason.
Now, Hundley is joined by the likes of Geovany Soto, David Ross, and A.J. Pierzynski as the best available backstops.
How are the Indians set up here, and what should they do?
We would all be grateful for Yan Gomes no matter what the market for catchers looked like, because Yan Gomes is awesome. One might be a bit more grateful for their favorite team having a good catcher this winter though.
Adding to the pleasure of having Gomes: knowing that the Indians got him from Toronto, the team that just shelled out $82 million for a guy who doesn't project to be as good as Gomes over the next few years. It's sort of like the Blue Jays paid $82 million to acquire Esmil Rogers two years ago. (No, Esmil, you don't get any of that money.)
The Indians even have a backup, Roberto Perez, who's probably better than any of the available catchers. On top of that, the Tribe has Francisco Mejia, who just turned 19 and has gotten high marks for both his offense and defense. He's probably still three years away from being ready to help at the MLB level, but that right around when one might expect Gomes to start declining.
One could argue that the Indians should feel out what sort of value Perez has to other teams, because he might fetch something more valuable than a good backup catcher. I don't know that he's accomplished enough to have developed any real trade value yet though, and besides, there's nothing wrong with having a good backup at a position that puts so much strain on the starter.