It took awhile for the Cubs to make a move amid a wild week in free agency, but they finally made their first major-league signings of the offseason Tuesday.
The Cubs began the day by striking a two-year, $13 million deal with catcher Yan Gomes and finished it by agreeing to terms with outfielder Clint Frazier on a one-year contract, sources told the Sun-Times. The deals are pending physicals.
Gomes, 34, long has been considered one of the best pitch-framers in baseball and should provide a calming presence for the Cubs’ pitching staff. The 10-year veteran slashed .252/.301/.421 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI last season with the Nationals and Athletics.
The signing likely will lead to questions about the future of catcher Willson Contreras, who has yet to sign a contract extension. Gomes provides valuable insurance in the event the Cubs were to trade Contreras this offseason, but he will provide them with an above-average backup if they don’t.
Backup catcher was a problem area for the Cubs last season. They went through eight backups in 2021: Austin Romine, Tony Wolters, P.J. Higgins, Jose Lobaton, Taylor Gushue, Robinson Chirinos, Tyler Payne and Erick Castillo.
‘‘This year has been tough,’’ Contreras said before the last game of the season. ‘‘A lot of backups went down; I don’t know why. If [manager David Ross] is planning on giving me a little more rest [next season], that’s going to be good for me, too. Obviously, I’m a guy that wants to play every single day, but I also understand that my body needs rest.’’
Contreras dealt with several injuries last season, and president Jed Hoyer and Ross had said they would like to reduce his workload to help save his body. With the designated hitter expected to be coming to the National League next season, Contreras getting some at-bats there wouldn’t be out of the question.
The addition of Frazier, 27, is an example of the Cubs taking a swing on a low-risk, high-reward player. He always has had off-the-charts tools and has been a highly regarded prospect since being selected No. 5 overall in the 2013 draft.
It looked as though Frazier had figured things out during the shortened 60-game season in 2020 with the Yankees, slashing .267/.394/.511 with eight homers and a .905 OPS. But he didn’t have the same level of success last season, slashing .186/.317/.317 with five homers. He also endured a bout with vertigo, which limited him to 66 games.
Frazier, who was designated for assignment and released by the Yankees, joins an outfield that also features Ian Happ, Rafael Ortega, Jason Heyward, Greg Deichmann and Harold Ramirez.