Age: July 19, 1987 (31)
Traditional Stats: .266/.313/.449, 26 2B, 16 HR, 48 RBI
Advanced Stats: 2.6 bWAR, 1.3 fWAR, 103 OPS+, 101 wRC+, 7.5 Framing Runs, o.6 RAA
Contract: One year, $7 million plus two team options
With both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki going down with injuries last season, the Mets reached out to the Cleveland Indians to inquire on both Gomes and Roberto Perez. As reported by MMO, the Indians were not inclined to trade either catcher to the Mets with a team official saying, “We’re not a farm team for the Mets.”
Six months later, it appears the Indians are more than willing to trade either catcher to the Mets, or really to anyone who presents the Indians with their best offer. Between the two Indians catchers, it appears Gomes is the better overall player, and as a result, is the more attractive trade target.
That said, Gomes is reminiscent to what the Mets already have in d’Arnaud. From the time he was drafted until he hit the Major Leagues, Gomes was seen as an offense first catcher who was not projected to have the best tools behind the plate. Also like d’Arnaud, Gomes has not fulfilled his offensive potential, but he has exceeded many expectations defensively, especially on the pitch framing front. Ultimately, for both players it has been an issue of injuries.
Since 2014, Gomes has had three separate stints on the disabled list. His injuries have included a right knee sprain, a separated throwing shoulder, and a concussion. This is partially why Gomes has not caught more than 112 games since 2014, and he has only hit .242/.288/.418 since 2013, which to date, was his only good offensive season in majors.
Even with this past year being Gomes’ first All Star selection, the season did leave plenty of concern. His 27.4% strikeout rate was the second worst of his career, and he continues to have an extremely low walk rate (4.8 percent). While he did improve his wRC+ from 2017, he did so with a .326 BABIP, which is over his .298 career BABIP suggesting he’s due for a regression next year.
Defensively, he tied a career worst with six passed balls, and the 32 wild pitches Indians pitchers threw with him behind the plate was the second worst mark of his career. That all said, he has continued to improve as a pitch framer while continuing to have a caught stealing percentage that is better than league average.
Why the Mets Should Obtain Him
While Gomes could be classified as the Indians version of d’Arnaud, unlike d’Arnaud, Gomes will be available to play on Opening Day. That’s even before you address whether the Mets will non-tender d’Arnaud.
Another important factor is that with Gomes splitting time with Perez this season, he is accustomed to the time sharing role the Mets had wanted to put into effect with Plawecki and d’Arnaud this season.
Perhaps the biggest reason to complete this deal is Gomes having previously worked with Mickey Callaway in Cleveland. Gomes knows what Callaway is looking for his catchers to provide, and given his skill-set, he is more than capable of providing that to Callaway and the entire Mets pitching staff next year.
Why the Mets Should Not Obtain Him
Next year, Gomes may not be appreciably better than what Plawecki could provide the Mets. For what it’s worth, the Steamer projections have Plawecki having a 90 wRC+, which is much better than the 80 wRC+ Gomes is projected to have next season.
Gomes is due $7 million next season with a $1 million buyout should the Mets not pick up his 2020 option. Conversely, MLB Trade Rumors projects Plawecki will receive $1.3 million in arbitration.
When you consider Plawecki can provide reasonably similar production for just 16 percent of the cost of Gomes, you would have to wonder why the Mets would allocate most of their offseason resources to a marginal at best upgrade instead of using the money to bolster their bullpen or other areas of need.
Gomes is an expensive catcher who is projected to perform worse offensively than Plawecki. When you consider the injury issues he has had and his turning 32 next year, we should expect Gomes to regress from his already disappointing 2018 numbers.
With all of this in mind, you would be hard-pressed to conjure a reason why the Mets should pursue Gomes.
That said, last year the Indians were rumored to be willing to trade Jason Kipnis straight-up for Paul Sewald. If the Indians are not looking for anything more than a Sewald or other low tier reliever the Mets could easily part with, the team would do well by adding Gomes to the mix with Plawecki or whomever the Mets would look to add in free agency or another trade.
Ultimately, no matter what the Mets do, they should not be making a deal for Gomes to be their primary catcher unless he is an absolute last resort . . . and maybe not even then.