The Cleveland Indians traded away a top prospect last summer that put away some of the talk of changes at the catcher position.
Then came talks of him not wanting to play in the outfield and next thing we knew he was traded to San Diego. A top prospect, gone just like that.
Mejia was in a tough situation in this organization. The team had committed several years and a lot of money to both Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez. Gomes earned over $6 million last year and will earn over $7 million in 2019. And given his experience with the staff, it didn’t make much sense to take away his job.
Perez remained the backup, and that still would have been true if Gomes was traded and Mejia got the job.
But trading away Mejia simplified the conversation surrounding the position. It also helped that Gomes had an All-Star season and finished above his career averages in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.
It is fascinating to me how Mejia never assumed the starting role and yet it was a hot topic for so long. Fans wanted to see the top prospect in action, especially when Gomes was struggling, and the Indians ended years of development by trading the young man to San Diego. To be fair, getting a top reliever in Brad Hand wasn’t the worst move.
Gomes is on the roster this year and then has a club option in both 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, Perez is under contract through 2020 with club options in 2021 and 2022.
The next catcher waiting in the wings is Eric Haase, whose presence in the organization likely made it an easier decision to trade Mejia. Haase saw some time with the Indians when the rosters expanded and is next in line behind Gomes. I’d argue that if Gomes left, Haase would immediately be first ahead of Perez.
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So in an offseason filled with questions of how to make this team better, we no longer have to sit around and wonder if there will be a changing of the guard at catcher. At least not yet.