Yan Gomes Reportedly Traded to Nationals for Minor League OF Daniel Johnson

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 30, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08:  Yan Gomes #7 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates as he scores a run on a sacrifice fly ball in the third inning against the Houston Astros during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As the Cleveland Indians reshape their roster after a disappointing playoff exit last season, All-Star catcher Yan Gomes has been traded by the three-time defending American League Central champions. 

Per Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, the Washington Nationals will send minor league outfielder Daniel Johnson to Cleveland in exchange for Gomes. 

The Indians have found themselves at a crossroads this offseason.

Per ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Cleveland's front office was willing to talk about virtually all of their veteran players not named Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez to combat a rising payroll. 

The Indians currently have $94.1 million in salary commitments next season. That total doesn't include arbitration salaries for Lindor and Trevor Bauer, who are projected to earn a combined $21.8 million by MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes

During Cleveland's current three-year run of AL Central titles, its owners have opened up its wallet to build a championship contender. The team spent a franchise-record $134.8 million on payroll in 2018, but they were swept in the ALDS by the Houston Astros. 

Another reason the Indians may have been looking to deal some of their notable players this winter is because they had the second-oldest team in MLB last season. Their average player was 29.9 years old, trailing only the Toronto Blue Jays (30.3). 

Gomes' value is probably close to peak value as a 31-year-old catcher. He was named to the AL All-Star team last season after posting a .762 OPS and 16 homers, his highest totals since 2014. 

A favorable contract also made him an attractive trade commodity. He's due to make $7,083,334 in 2019 with two team options at $9 million in 2020 and $11 million in 2021. 

Even though the Indians felt the need to move on from Gomes at this stage of his career, the Nationals are getting one of the few everyday catchers left in MLB who can provide value on offense and defense. 

Finding a starting catcher seemed like a high priority for the Nationals this offseason. Kurt Suzuki signed a two-year deal with the team earlier this offseason, but the 35-year-old has been below-average as a defender for most of his career and has only thrown out more than 20 percent of basestealers once in the past four seasons. 

Gomes has been terrific defensively throughout his career, throwing out 35 percent of basestealers. He's also finished sixth among all catchers last season with 1.7 blocking runs, per Baseball Prospectus.

Coming off a strong offensive year and usually strong defense, Gomes is the perfect all-around catcher for the Nationals in their quest to get back atop the National League East after a disappointing 82-80 record in 2018. 

The Indians got some much-needed help for their outfield in the trade. Their primary group from last season—Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, Rajai Davis—were free agents when the offseason started. Chisenhall signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. 

Johnson, 23, was ranked as Washington's No. 7 prospect by MLB.com. He hit .269/.327/.412 in 96 games during the 2018 season. The New Mexico State alum has the ability to play center field and right field when he reaches the big leagues.