Heading into the 2018 season, the New York Mets had a noticeable lack of depth at catcher. Aside from Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki – who were expected to share a majority of the playing time behind the plate – Tomas Nido was the only catcher in the system with major league experience. At that point in time, Nido had amassed just ten plate appearances at the big league level.
To remedy this shortfall, the club signed eight-year veteran Jose Lobaton to a minor league deal during the offseason and invited him to spring training. Lobaton entered the season with a career .218/.295/.324 slash line in 1,221 plate appearances to go along with a 72 wRC+, a .105 ISO, and a 1.5 fWAR. If nothing else, the 33-year-old Lobaton – who spent the four previous seasons with the Washington Nationals – provided another body to occupy a spot on the Triple-A roster and served as a tertiary option for Mickey Callaway to call upon in case of injury.
As it turned out, d’Arnaud and Plawecki were both sidelined by injuries in early April, which forced the Mets to call up Lobaton. Fate had dealt the Mets a bad hand, and they quickly went from a passable platoon of Plawecki and d’Arnaud to an unsustainable platoon of Nido and Lobaton. The results were unsurprisingly poor, which led to the club trading for Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8.
From April 13 through May 7, Lobaton started 12 of 22 games and made 16 total appearances. During that span, he went 4-for-43 while posting a .521 OPS, a .093 ISO, and a 51 wRC+. Once Mesoraco came on board, Lobaton’s playing time immediately evaporated and he quickly found himself back in Las Vegas. For what it’s worth, Lobaton performed significantly better against Triple-A pitching, slashing .348/.430/.598 with eight home runs in 132 at-bats.
Lobaton would appear in just four more games after June 1. His lone “Mets moment” coming on September 20 when he connected on a go-ahead, pinch-hit sacrifice fly against the Nationals in the 12th inning to lift the Mets to victory. It was one of just four runs batted in that Lobaton contributed during the season. On defense, Lobaton threw out just three of 15 baserunners and finished 2018 with a -4 DRS.
Lobaton posted a .143/.246/.224 slash line, a 37 wRC+, a .082 ISO, and a -0.3 fWAR in 57 plate appearances. His time with the club was an uneventful as it was brief, as the veteran became a free agent following the completion of the World Series. With d’Arnaud expected to miss a majority of the 2019 season following Tommy John surgery and Plawecki and Nido failing to establish themselves as everyday starters, the team will begin their search for a catcher anew this offseason.