The Gomes Trade is a Lot of Things, but it’s Not Part of a Fire Sale
Vince Guerrieri | On 05, Dec 2018
My phone started blowing up Friday night as word got out that Yan Gomes was being dealt to the Nationals.
My boy William (with whom I’d regularly participated in Cleveland Browns and Indians Q&As) asked why the Indians were dealing their starting catcher, a year after he played in his first All-Star Game. But too many of my Indians fan friends used the same two-word phrase that had me channeling Samuel L. Jackson in “Pulp Fiction”:
SAY “FIRE SALE” AGAIN! I DARE YOU!! I DOUBLE DARE YOU!!!
It’s really easy to be nervous about the Indians this season. After their second year of an unceremonious playoff exit in the American League Division Series, and the news that followed that the Tribe would listen to trade offers for its starting pitching – by far the team’s greatest asset – it’s not that much of a stretch to start to think they’re getting ready to throw in the towel. And now they dealt Gomes in what can only be termed a salary dump (the players they got back may be regular contributors for the Indians – if there’s one thing the team’s consistently been able to do, it’s get prospects that pan out – but the move in and of itself doesn’t making them markedly better in the short term).
Gomes will always have a special place in my heart for poking that single to left field to drive in the game-winning run in that 13-inning marathon to put the Indians up 2-0 in the Division Series against the Yankees in 2017. Unfortunately, the Tribe ain’t been right since, for a lot of reasons. The bullpen needs help. There’s suddenly a shortage of outfielders. Third base is a question mark – especially after the Braves (in my opinion, anyway) overpaid for Josh Donaldson. (This is a good place to note that both Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce – who departed after last season to fat free agent contracts – are on the move, with the pair both heading to Seattle in separate trades by the Mariners.)
This team’s in dire need of a makeover – one that already seems to be in progress, since the Tribe didn’t make qualifying offers to Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller or Cody Allen. And recall that even though they didn’t receive qualifying offers, it’s still possible – but in my estimation, unlikely – that they’ll be with the Indians next year. Lonnie Chisenhall signed with the Pirates, and I can do nothing but wish him well. He’s good, but has been injury-prone. Then again, I said that this time last year about Brantley, who put together a better-than-average season this year.
And now Gomes is gone. The Indians have to believe they can entrust the catching job to Roberto Perez or Eric Haase (although it’s worth noting that the Indians dealt ANOTHER catching prospect, Francisco Mejia, to try to shore up the bullpen, and the jury’s still out on that one). And let’s face it, after the season Gomes had in 2016, I think most people would be thrilled at the prospect that the Indians would be able to trade him for any return. This is probably the top of the market for him.
It’s early December, and the owners’ meetings haven’t even started yet. So it’s worth noting that this deal doesn’t look like a great one immediately, but if it enables the Indians to improve the roster at points of more glaring need, then it may yet be a winner.
But whatever it is, it’s not running up the white flag.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images