Rene Rivera entered the 2017 season with two main objectives. The first was to back up the injury-prone and inconsistent Travis d’Arnaud. The second was to provide stability for Noah Syndergaard behind the plate as a veteran who could help the Mets’ rising ace on the hill. The latter objective quickly vanished when Syndergaard infamously refused an MRI before proceeding to partially tear his lat muscle requiring the righty to sit out the majority of the season.
Nonetheless Rivera started the season off on a hot streak, by his standards, ending the first two months of the season hitting .286/.317/.388 with two home runs, 15 RBIs, and eight runs in 29 games. As the Mets’ season began to fall apart, Rivera faded at the dish slightly, finishing his 2017 campaign with the Mets batting .230/.278/.391 with eight home runs, 23 RBIs, and 15 runs in 174 at-bats.
On August 19, the Cubs claimed the veteran catcher off waivers, giving the Mets some minor salary relief as they pressed the reset button in preparation for the 2018 season. Rivera, who joined the Mets in April of 2016, finished his run with the club batting just .226/.285/.365 with 14 home runs and a 72 OPS+. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native, known more for his defense, threw out 33% of base stealers during his time in New York, helping him post a 0.8 bWAR and fWAR during his time with the team.
Rivera finished out his 2017 campaign filling in whenever needed to provide rest for Cubs catchers Wilson Contreras and Alex Avila down the stretch. He did so successfully in his 50 plate appearances in Chicago, batting .341/.408/.591 with two home runs, 12 RBIs, and eight runs. Despite the increased batting production once joining the Cubs, Rivera failed to make Chicago’s postseason roster for the NLDS and NLCS series.
The 34-year-old Rivera has now completed nine seasons in the big leagues and is a free agent heading into the offseason where he will likely be signed into a backup catcher role. One possible destination for Rivera is to rejoin the Cubs as a backup to Contreras, as Avila is also likely to test the free agency waters.
The numbers don’t jump off the page when looking back at Rivera’s 2017 season with the Mets, but he was one of the few players to meet the expectations that were set for him.