The Mets Need a Catcher, But Who’s Available?

Ever since Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki went down, the Mets have had virtually zero production from their catchers. And that’s not a figure of speech either. They’ve literally gotten almost nothing from their catchers.

Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido have combined to bat .154/.241/.212 with no home runs and just four RBIs in 52 at-bats. Both have combined for two extra-base hits — both by Lobaton.

Lobaton’s OPS+ stands at 54, and Nido’s at 14. This kind of performance really makes you wonder how much worse a 49-year-old Mike Piazza could do.

I mean… He probably wouldn’t be *that* much worse.

I digress.

It goes without saying that a  .154/.241/.212 slash at an offensive position is not sustainable for a hopeful contender. Even when Plawecki comes back, which is still at least two weeks away, the Mets are going to have to address their issues they have behind the plate.

Plawecki is a .219/.309/.305 lifetime hitter who has never played in more than 73 games in a season. Although he played reasonably well in limited action last season (.260/.364/.400 with a 102 OPS+), it remains to be seen how he would handle an everyday catching job.

The Mets can’t continue to have their catchers constitute as an automatic out. The pitchers’ spot is already effectively an automatic out (although Mets pitching is far better at hitting than most staffs) and having two such spots in the lineup can kill two-thirds of an inning. That’s why the Mets need to do something to improve their catching, and as soon as possible.

This is where things start to get tough: It’s easy to say that the Mets need a better catcher, but there aren’t exactly a ton of solid options out there.

Clickbait chasers would have you believe that J.T. Realmuto is a real possibility, but the Mets simply don’t have the top-tier prospects needed to get a deal done for someone like that. Jonathan Lucroy could become a possibility at the trade deadline, but it would make little sense for the A’s to unload him now, especially given their surprising 14-14 start.

So whatever improvement the Mets make would likely have to come on the free agent market. And a few of those options would represent clear improvements over what the Mets have now, which unfortunately isn’t saying much. But there are a few veterans out there who fit this mold, and would cost next to nothing to bring in.

Someone like Carlos Ruiz would make sense for the Mets. The 39-year-old Ruiz batted only .216/.313/.352 in 125 at-bats for the Mariners last season, but batted a respectable .264/.365/.348 in 2016. Ruiz obviously won’t bring to the table the same ability he did with the Phillies circa 2011, but the Mets will take a .216/.313/.352 hitting catcher at this point. That’s still an improvement over what they have now.

Miguel Montero also fits this mold. He was released by the Nationals after just four games this year, but was a serviceable starting catcher as recently as 2015. However, Montero’s reputation for being a bit of a clubhouse cancer would be working against him here. He was DFA’d by the Cubs last year after publicly calling out teammate Jake Arrieta.

A few other vets that fit that could be considered include Derek Norris (.201/.258/.380 with nine home runs in 179 at-bats in 2017), Geovany Soto (.190/.271/.405 in 42 at-bats in 2017), and Ryan Hanigan (.267/.324/.347 in 101 at-bats with the Rockies in 2017).

With Lobaton struggling and not as defensively sound as Nido, bringing in another veteran for the time being would be shrewd.

When Plawecki returns, the veteran they sign could back him while Nido could return to the minors and get everyday playing time.

What do you think the Mets should do with their catching situation?

About Chris Gaine 100 Articles
Chris is an up-and-coming sportswriter who has spent the bulk of his career covering baseball. He has been published in Complex Sports, Amazin' Avenue and Venom Strikes. He can be found on Twitter @chris_gaine, where he specializes in obscure sports facts.