Let’s be honest, there is major concern with Travis d’Arnaud‘s ability to stay healthy, and although his defense isn’t necessarily a concern, it’s not a strength either. With high praise from the Mets brain trust for catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, does TDA have enough pop in his bat to justify a switch to 1B in the future?
Kirk Cahill replies…
This is an excellent question. I think it’s also a question that we don’t necessarily have an answer to just yet. D’Arnaud has just 112 major-league plate appearances under his belt, so it’s difficult to know just what type of offensive player he’s going to be. That said, I’m always a little uncomfortable moving catchers off of the position.
Having a catcher who can hit and hit for power is so rare that you’d hate to negate his value by moving him — especially to first base. In some rare cases like those of Buster Posey and Joe Mauer, players who are so offensively gifted that their offense will play above-average no matter where you put them I’m okay with it. Especially later in their careers. I’m just not so sure that Travis is that type of offensive force.
Scouts project TDA to be somewhere in the .270-.280 range with 20+ homers and an above-average walk total. That’s a top catcher, but probably a league average first basemen. I would keep him behind the plate until absolutely necessary and enjoy the spoils of getting that type of production out of my catcher, and enjoy the luxury of filling my first base spot with a prototypical middle of the order masher.
As for d’Arnaud’s injury history, it’s certainly a concern. However not all of his injuries have been directly connected to catching. He suffered a knee injury breaking up a doubleplay in 2012. His most recent injury was due to a foul ball hitting him in the foot, and while that’s obviously directly related to being a catcher it’s a fluky type of injury.
The most worrisome injury would have to be the back problems that popped up in 2010, but with said injury almost four years in the past, perhaps it isn’t something that we can expect to be chronic. The recent ruling to end home plate collisions will certainly help. So when taking all of that into consideration I still maintain that keeping him at catcher until something or someone forces your hand is the best plan of action.