Less than 12 hours before baseball's expected lockout, the Cubs finalized their first significant free agent addition of the offseason.
The Cubs announced Wednesday they've signed catcher Yan Gomes to a two-year deal with a club option for 2024. The deal is worth $13 million, NBC Sports Chicago confirmed — $6 million in both 2022 and '23, and a $6 million option or $1 million buyout for 2024.
It's unclear what this deal means for starter Willson Contreras, who's entering his final year of club control and has been the subject of trade rumors the last two offseasons. Gomes at least provides insurance as a capable starter should the Cubs decide to move Contreras this winter.
Gomes, 35 next July, is a 10-year veteran who split last season with the Nationals and A's after he was traded to Oakland at the deadline. He previously spent six seasons with Cleveland, where he made one All-Star team and was on their World Series runner-up roster in 2016.
Since his 2012 debut season, Gomes ranks 11th among catchers in Defensive Runs Saved (41) and 29th in FanGraphs' framing metric (16.6). He holds a career .720 OPS and hit .252/.301/.421 in 103 games in 2021.
The Cubs also consider Gomes insurance if they're unable to extend Contreras this winter. Their catching depth took a hit recently with news top catching prospect Miguel Amaya will undergo Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for at least a chunk of 2022.
Whether the Cubs move Contreras, they entered the offseason looking to address the backup catcher job after using a franchise-record nine backstops in 2021. Contreras took on a heavy workload amid the revolving door, ranking seventh in baseball with 935 2/3 innings caught.
If the Cubs keep Contreras, Gomes can take some of the burden off him behind the plate. And with a universal DH likely coming in the next collective bargaining agreement, the Cubs can keep Contreras' bat in the lineup on days he gets a breather.