Let me start by saying that I’ve been one of Yan Gomes’ biggest fans since he arrived in Cleveland before the 2013 season. The team traded reliever Esmil Rogers for Mike Aviles and Gomes. The guy they really wanted was Aviles, and they were able to get Gomes to serve in a limited backup role to Carlos Santana. They also liked the idea that he was a right-handed bat who could also fill in at first base or third base. He was not expected to be a great offensive player but a guy who could fill in and be efficient enough at the plate to not be a detriment to the offense.
Yan ended up making the team as the backup catcher in 2013. He has also been a pretty good defensive catcher and has a great arm for throwing out runners, but his bat was making it hard to keep him off the field. He had 86 hits in 88 games according to espn.com, and he hit 11 home runs to go with 38 RBI. His improvement at the plate was leading the team to believe that they may have found their long-term solution at catcher. Santana was not a great defensive catcher, and they were talking about trying to use him more at first base or as the designated hitter.
Gomes became the Tribe’s primary catcher in 2014 and put together a great season. He batted .278 with 21 home runs and 74 RBI. He was very exciting and was becoming a favorite of a lot of fans. He was a young guy who was showing some pop and hitting for a good average at the plate. He was also working great with the pitching staff and allowing the team to move Santana out from behind the plate. He looked like he was going to have a bright future, and the team signed him to a multi-year contract that escalates up to $7 million in 2019 and has two more club options after that at $9 million and $11 million according to baseball-reference.com.
The team had a lot of confidence in him because he had shown he could produce well for a year and a half. The last couple of years Gomes’ numbers has dipped, and he’s only played about half of the games due to injuries and subpar play. He hit .231 in 95 games in 2015 and .167 in 74 games a year ago. He injured his shoulder in a game against the Twins last July, and then he broke his hand in his last rehab game at AA Akron when he was only days from coming off the disabled list late in the season. He returned in time to make the playoff roster, but he was relegated to backup duty and barely saw any action. His defense is still very good, but between his inability to hit and his inability to stay healthy, he has become a detriment to the team at this point.
There was a lot of hope for Gomes coming into this season. He was finally healthy, and I was hoping he would be able to get back to being the old Gomes from 2013 and 2014. However, he is off to an atrocious start again. Prior to getting a couple of hits in the series against the Twins, Gomes was hitting under .100 for the season. I know it’s early, but a lineup can only deal with an automatic out for so long. He also has a total of 1 home run and 1 RBI on the year.
I think it’s time to sit Gomes for awhile and let him work some of his issues out playing a couple of times a week behind Roberto Perez. I know Perez is not the model of consistency at the plate either, but he is also not getting the chance to get into a groove by playing every day. The Indians just signed him to a four-year contract extension, so it’s safe to say they see something in him. He also provided some very key hits in last season’s playoffs that really helped the Tribe get to where they did. At a certain point, leaving Gomes in the lineup to try to show confidence in him is not helping anyone anymore. I still really like Gomes and hope he can pull out of this to get back to where he was, but I think it’s time for him to step aside for a little bit to see what Perez can do. Hopefully he can work his stuff out and be a key player for the team later in the year.