It’s another reminder that the days of us getting excited by news of a trade (“ooh – someone new”) have shifted (“ugh – who’d we lose?”) as Daniel Johnson, Jefry Rodriguez, and the eponymous player to be named later were traded to Cleveland for catcher Yan Gomes.
Johnson, who had a meteoric rise through the Washington system last summer after a mediocre debut in 2016, had been the top-rated outfielder not named Victor Robles. While he spent all of 2018 in AA, his season was interrupted by hamate-bone surgery that subsequently (and usually) sapped his power (.505 SLG in ’17 vs. .412 in ’18) though he compensated with his legs by stealing 22 bases and smacking 7 triples — matching his 2017 thievery in 41 fewer games while getting caught just four times.
Johnson was acquired despite a horrific showing in the AFL (.438 OPS) for the second straight fall and mixed reviews from the scouts (see Adam McInturff vs. Bernie Pleskoff), though Baseball America seemed to have nice things to say [insert note about BA’s reputation for parroting team officials here].
Rodriguez, who graduated from prospect status this past summer, was also included in the deal. Last summer was the first one in which he threw more than 60 innings at a given level and had an ERA less than 4.00. His inclusion puts more pressure on the big club’s starting rotation that was already reminiscent of the ’48 Braves (“Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”) with Joe Ross coming off TJ surgery, Erick Fedde barely avoiding it (thus far), and Tanner Roark still not recovered from the 2017 WBC.
The deal should finally put to rest the pining for J.T. Realmuto that seems to have dogged the Nats since parting ways with Wilson Ramos (and thankfully, the Allen-esque idea of bringing Ramos back) and solidifies a position that has been an offensive black hole the past two seasons. With the emergence of several catchers in the lower levels, the Nats are also in the enviable position of being able to trade one of the three remaining catchers on the 40-man roster (Raudy Read, Spencer Kieboom, or Pedro Severino) while still having two viable backups at AAA or AA – even if the return may be minimal.