Image credit: Yan Gomes reacts after striking out in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros during Game Three of the ALDS. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Nationals had one of baseball’s worst catching situations last year. They are going the extra mile to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen in 2019.
Less than two weeks after signing Kurt Suzuki, the Nationals acquired Yan Gomes from the Indians on Friday night. In return, Cleveland received outfield prospect Daniel Johnson, righthander Jefry Rodriguez and a player to be named later.
Daniel Johnson, OF
Johnson can run, play all three outfield positions and has a cannon for an arm, but no one is sure how much he’ll hit. He ranked as the Nationals’ No. 8 prospect entering the year but hit just .267 with six home runs in 89 games at Double-A Harrisburg and missed time with a broken hamate bone. He followed up by hitting .145 in the Arizona Fall League. At his best, Johnson has a contact bat that drives balls the opposite way into the left-center gap. Even though his offense is far from a sure thing, he still was set to rank in the Nationals’ Top 10 Prospects for 2019 on the strength of his other tools.
Jefry Rodriguez, RHP
Rodriguez ranked as the Nationals’ No. 24 prospect entering last season and went 3-3, 5.71 in 14 appearances (eight starts) as a rookie. Rodriguez has power stuff with a 95 mph fastball and a hammer power curveball, but he’s still learning to control it. He had nearly as many walks (37) as strikeouts (39) in 52 innings in his MLB debut. Rodriguez has a chance to remain a starter, but most see his future as a power reliever due to his unreliable control.
Yan Gomes, C
Gomes remains one of the best defensive catchers in the game and is coming off his best offensive season in four years. He hit .266 with 16 home runs and represented the American League in the All-Star Game. Overall, his .762 OPS ranked fifth in MLB among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances. Gomes has top-of-the-scale arm strength and has thrown out 35 percent of basestealers for his career—compared to the league average of 28 percent—and rates as a stronger blocker and defender overall. He is signed through 2019 with team options for 2020 and 2021.