Sep 21, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes (10) in the on deck cirlce against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brazilian Pioneer Becomes Most Valuable Contract in Baseball
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The legend began when Yan Gomes came to the Tribe along with Mike Aviles in exchange for flamethrower Esmil Rogers. The deal turned out to be yet another lopsided trade by hustler Chris Antonetti, as Yan Gomes has provided the Indians with a stunning 8.2 Wins Above Replacement value during his two years in Cleveland, including a whopping 4.6 in 2014. That number is good for 3rd place on the team, behind only Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber.
Gomes began the year as Cleveland’s starting catcher after taking the full-time job away from incumbent Carlos Santana midway through the 2013 season. His bat was merely average early on, posting just a .255/.307/.401 batting line through June 15th, and it didn’t help that he committed 10 errors from behind the plate during that time. Had he continued that pace for the rest of the time in Cleveland, his contract would have still looked good. But good just wasn’t going to cut it for the first Brazilian-born player to reach the major leagues. Gomes exploded in July and smashed opposing pitchers to the tune of a .294/.319/.532 batting line for the rest of the season, joining Buster Posey and Tyler Flowers as the only qualifying catchers to slug over .500 in the second half. Among qualifying catchers, only Alex Avila threw out more runners trying to steal. Gomes’ 1.3 defensive WAR was top 5 among catchers in baseball, as were his 73 assists. Gomes was a force with both his bat and his glove.
Gomes’ contract extends through 2019 for a guarantee of about 21 million after 2014. Two club options could bring that amount to $41 million through 2021. If the marble-chinned catcher provides 4.5 WAR (slightly less than his 2014 total) each year of his contract from here on out, he would provide the Indians with 31.5 WAR through the remainder of his contract, assuming both of his options get picked up. According to former Wahoo’s on First editor Lewie Pollis, a win in baseball in 2013 was worth roughly $7 million. Using that figure, it’s entire possible that Gomes could provide the Indians with $220.5 million dollars (nearly a quarter of a billion) worth of wins through the remainder of his contract for the mere price of $41 million. This figure could make the Gomes signing the most valuable contract in the history of the organization.
It remains to be seen whether or not Gomes will be able to keep up his 20-homer per season pace over the next few years, but everything he’s been doing looks legitimate. Sure, his on-base percentage could be a bit higher, but when you’ve got that kind of offense coming from a premium defensive position, it’s hard to complain, especially considering the fact that he has a career OPS of about .800. The Indians are lucky to have Gomes in a Cleveland uniform for the next half a dozen years. Now if only they’d start selling his jersey in the gift shop…