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Rene Rivera set to be Mets’ backup catcher as 2017 season starts

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Rivera was pretty much locked into the spot when the Mets tendered him a contract early in the offseason.

Wild Card Game - San Francisco Giants v New York Mets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In the first week of the 2016 season, the Mets signed veteran catcher Rene Rivera. And after just eight games with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, he was promoted to the big league roster when Travis d’Arnaud hit the disabled list and never looked back. When the Mets’ season ended, it wasn’t shocking that the team tendered Rivera a contract, and he and the team settled upon a $1.75 million salary for the 2017 season.

Over the course of 207 plate appearances with the big league team, Rivera hit just .222/.291/.341 with a 70 wRC+. He hit six home runs over that span, which is pretty good, but among catchers who had at least 200 plate appearances last year, he ranked 33rd of 43 in wRC+. But because of his own defense and Kevin Plawecki’s inability—thus far—to hit at the major league level, the Mets don’t seem to mind Rivera’s lack of production as a hitter. As for his defense, the numbers back up the perception. Rivera rated 11th-best in baseball at pitch framing by Baseball Prospectus’s FRAA_ADJ catching defensive metric.

It also doesn’t hurt that Rivera became Noah Syndergaard’s personal catcher, and that’s pretty much the role that he’s expected to have as the 2017 season begins. If d’Arnaud stays healthy and hits, Rivera wouldn’t be very likely to make more than one start per week. And unless Plawecki gets an opportunity with the Mets and takes a big leap forward at the plate, there doesn’t seem to be much risk that Rivera would be cut from the team.