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It’s time for Cleveland Indians’ catcher Yan Gomes to feel the heat of baseball’s Hot Stove season

CLEVELAND, Ohio — This is the time of year when baseball executives spend a lot of hours texting and talking to each other. Sometimes it leads to trades, but almost always it leads to rumors that add heat to the hot stove season.

Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff, Carter Hawkins and other members of the Indians’ front office have been talking to a lot of teams this winter. They have little, if any, money to spend on the free agent market, but they have a roster full of players that other teams like and holes to fill in the outfield and bullpen.

That leads to rumors such as catcher Yan Gomes being traded the Mets or Dodgers. Not to mention starting pitchers Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer being traded to any number of teams.

“We have a lot of players that other teams value and that leads to a lot of conversations between teams,” said Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations. “That’s not any different this offseason than any other off season. . .Teams talk about a wide variety of players.”

This week Gomes has been a hot topic. Not only have the Dodgers been mentioned, but also the Mets. Mets manager Callaway, the Tribe’s former pitching coach, knows Gomes well.

Gomes, 31, is coming off what manager Terry Francona called his steadiest season. He hit .266 (107-for-403) with 26 doubles, 16 homers and 48 RBI and won the starting job outright from Roberto Perez. Gomes played his most games (112) since 2014 and stayed healthy after missing time in 2015 and 2016 with knee, shoulder and hand injuries.

In 2019 Goes will make $7 million. The Indians hold club options worth $9 million and $11 million for 2020 and 2021.

There are two questions that the Indians have to answer if they trade Gomes. No.1, could a one-on-one deal involving Gomes fill one of their needs in the bullpen or outfield? Or would Gomes have to be packaged with another player? No. 2, Can Perez and Eric Haase provide enough offense at catcher or would they need to go out and get another catcher?

Perez just had his worst season in the big leagues. He hit .168 (30-for-179) with two homers and 19 RBI. Haase hit .236 (102-for-433) with 20 homers and 71 RBI at Class AAA Columbus. He hit .125 (2-for-16) in nine games with the Indians.

If the Indians did trade Gomes, it would give them the ability to dabble in the free agent market. Right now, the chances of that happening are slim.

The catching market is crowded. The top name is Miami’s J.T. Realmudo. Then comes Dodger free agent Yasmani Grandal. In the regular season, Grandal hit .241 (106-for-440) with 24 homers and 68 RBI.

Teams have been trying to trade for Realmudo for more than a year. The Marlins hung on to him during last winter’s fire sale and he did nothing to hurt his reputation as one of the best catchers in the game by hitting .277 (132-fopr-477) with 30 doubles, 21 homers and 74 RBI.

The Dodgers and Houston are said to be interested in Realmudo. So were the Nationals until they signed Kurt Suzuki to a two-year deal on Monday.

Grandal is a free agent, which is one of the reasons the Dodgers are interested in Realmudo and Gomes. The Dodgers also have catching prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith who could help make a deal for Gomes more palatable to the Indians should one of them be included. Ruiz and Smith have not played above Class AA.

Houston could use a catcher as well because Martin Maldonado and Brian McCann are free agents this winter.

Just how Gomes fits into that market will become clearer in the days and weeks to come.

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