The Nationals are reportedly acquiring All-Star catcher Yan Gomes from the Indians in exchange for right-handed pitcher Jefry Rodriguez, minor-league outfielder Daniel Johnson, and a player to be named later. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the among the first to report that a deal was in the works, while The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes confirmed the full deal on Friday evening:
Indians will receive RHP Jefrey Rodriguez, OF Daniel Johnson and a player to be named from Nats for Yan Gomes.— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) December 1, 2018
Gomes, 31, hasn’t been the type of guy who catches 130-140 games in the vein of a Yadier Molina or Salvador Perez for most of his career, but he’s an extremely solid backstop when paired with another catcher who’s capable of starting 50-60 games — as he was in Cleveland with Roberto Perez, and as he will be in Washington with Kurt Suzuki, who signed a two-year deal with the Nats last week.
Gomes is coming off an All-Star campaign during which he posted a .266/.313/.449 slash line with 16 homers in 435 plate appearances while starting 105 games behind the plate. He’s considered an above-average defender and posted four defensive runs saved in 2018, which ranked third among qualifying major-league catchers, while earning a nomination for the AL Gold Glove at the position.
Rodriguez, 25, made his major-league debut with the Nationals in 2018, throwing for a 5.71 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over 52 innings (14 appearances, eight starts). It’s fair to argue that those numbers don’t really tell the full story, as Rodriguez was called up from Double-A to the majors, and even after spending some time at Triple-A late in the season, he still only has pitched in 20 games — those 14 MLB appearances, plus six with the Syracuse Chiefs — above Double-A. He’ll likely begin next season at Triple-A Columbus, though he could be a potential long-relief option as the season goes on or provide rotation depth — particularly if the Indians end up trading a veteran starter this offseason.
Johnson, 23, is a left-handed hitting outfielder who was a fifth-round pick by Washington in the 2016 draft. After earning the Nationals’ Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2017, Johnson enjoyed a solid 2018 season, slashing .267/.321/.410 with six homers over 391 plate appearances in the ultra-pitcher-friendly Eastern League (Double-A). He had a miserable showing in the Arizona Fall League, though, hitting .145/.260/.177 over 73 PAs. It’s difficult to take much stock in those numbers, however, since he may have been burned out after already playing six full months of baseball — especially since he spent about six weeks on the DL during the middle of the season. Johnson was ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Nationals organization by MLB Pipeline.