LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Indians manager Terry Francona informed Yan Gomes at the end of this past season that the young catcher will return as the team's starting catcher next year.
"I think he kind of knew," Francona said on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings. "The last two months, he was playing just about every day. But, for the sense of being honest with people, we wanted to talk to Carlos [Santana], too, so he could go about his winter. We wanted to sit with him, and we also wanted to tell Gomer, so he could get ready.
"Coming in to catch a full year is taxing -- he's never done it before. So we wanted to give him a head start, because it'll be a wear and tear on him that he's probably never had before."
Cleveland acquired the 26-year-old Gomes from Toronto, along with utility man Mike Aviles, in exchange for right-hander Esmil Rogers last offseason. Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash -- formerly a member of the Blue Jays' front office -- raved about Gomes' potential as a full-time catcher, even though he was bouncing between a handful of positions in Toronto.
The Indians planned on sending Gomes to Triple-A for 2013, but an injury to backup Lou Marson in April changed the team's course of action. Gomes took over as the primary backup to Santana, and then assumed the starting role behind the plate by August. Santana garnered more time at designated hitter and first base in the second half, and will have the same kind of role in the coming year.
Gomes impressed Cleveland with his game-calling and throwing ability, and hit .294 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 88 games.
"It's one of the best stories," Francona said. "I wish I could sit here and say, 'Yeah, I saw this.' I had no idea. ... When he caught, it was just so striking how much of an impact he was making. When we finally did turn it over to him full time, he kind of took it and ran with it."
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti is looking forward to seeing Gomes build on last season's showing.
"He set the bar really high," Antonetti said. "The thing that excites me the most about Yan is his continued desire to improve as a player. He's never satisfied."