General manager Chris Antonetti officially tipped his hand extending Yan Gomes to a six-year, $23 million extension retaining the Brazilian-born catcher through potentially the 2019 season, with a team option in the final two years. Essentially, the Cleveland Indians bought out three years of Gomes’ arbitration and one year of free agency at an affordable rate. This pact gives the Indians complete control over the contract as Gomes approaches 31 years old toward the end of the contract.
The Tribe front office has been busy this spring inking left fielder Michael Brantley to a four-year, $25 million deal earlier this camp, while also kicking the tires on multi-year extensions for Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson.
Partially as a result of poor drafts and unfulfilled player development, Cleveland hasn’t been in a position to extend young players on the cusp of their primes. Without any indications of an extension getting done, Gomes’ new deal surpasses Carlos Santana’s contract, much like the job behind the plate, for the largest ever pre-arbitration contract for a catcher.
Antonetti’s recent move speak volumes about what he thinks about this current 25-man roster. Two days before opening day, this notion was nailed down that 2013 was fun, but things are just getting started. The corner of Carnegie and Ontario will play host to a competitive club with a concrete foundation for the next four-plus seasons.
Courtesy of the new wave pitch framing metrics, it’s now obtainable to quantify a catcher’s value more thoroughly. In 2013, Gomes proved his worth ranking second in MLB with a 10.9 called strike percentage (ClStk%) in 5,710 pitches of work. He led the league in the statistic with runners in scoring position with 12.0 percent ClStk%, followed by Jose Molina (9.7 percent) and Carlos Corporan (9.6 percent). Out of the 49 stolen base attempts, 20 were administered an out by the 26-year-old.
According to XVAL sports, in 2013 Cleveland had the third and fourth most valuable catchers in Santana and Gomes, respectively. Calculating the total value produced by wins above replacement (WAR), the site tabbed Santana worth $12.47 million ($550,000 2013 salary), and Gomes worth $11,469,999 ($500,000 2013 salary). The Wahoos now have two exceptionally talented players who can catch maintaining opposite skill sets for Cleveland to use at their disposal through 2016. This video shows how active Gomes is in every component of the game both defensively and with the lumber.
Starting right-hander Masterson has been candid with not only the media, but with the suits upstairs, delivering the Indians a watchful eye with a blueprint figure to sign for three to four years. The ace has noted multiple times his willingness to continue negotiations during the season, which is encouraging considering his ability linked to an estimated extension worth $40-$60 million over three or four seasons.
If Antonetti is able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and retain Kipnis long-term, a sustainable future in Cleveland baseball is overwhelming achievable.