Welcome to One Last Move, where our writers pitch a move to the Mets that would close out their offseason and make the team better in 2019.
Heading into this offseason, the Mets had several areas of need that had to be addressed, and one in particular was catcher. Last season, five different players manned the position for the team, and none of them were particularly effective. The quintet of Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki, Jose Lobaton, Tomas Nido, and Devin Mesoraco was one of the most offensively challenged at that position in the entire league.
According to Fangraphs, their combined line of .202/.289/.353 was good for 25th in the league, and collectively they were worth just 0.4 WAR. In fairness to d’Arnaud, he only played in four games before needing Tommy John surgery, but considering the health of the catchers on the roster and their offensive output, the outlook for 2019 was not great.
Even with their past performances, early on in the offseason GM Brodie Van Wagenen said he was happy with what was already on the roster. He might have said that, but his actions said something different. The Mets were linked to Martin Maldonado, J.T. Realmuto, and Yasmani Grandal before getting their man in Wilson Ramos. That move made Kevin Plawecki expendable, and he was traded to Cleveland for pitcher Walter Lockett and second baseman Sam Haggerty.
After those moves, the Mets’ depth at catcher consists of Wilson Ramos and Travis d’Arnaud, neither of whom have been able to stay healthy in their careers. Furthermore, there is some doubt as to whether d’Arnaud will be ready for Opening Day as he continues to recover from Tommy John. The Mets tendered him a contract worth $3.515 million with the hopes he would be versatile enough to play other positions.
If d’Arnaud is not ready for Opening Day, or if either he or Ramos gets hurt over the course of the season, that leaves Tomas Nido as the next in line. Nido has not shown much offensively when given the opportunity to play at the major league level. Over the course of his career, the 24-year-old has hit just .181/.210/.255 in 94 at bats. Behind the dish, he threw out only 20% of basestealers last year, which was behind both Plawecki and Mesoraco’s marks.
With two injury prone catchers on the roster, and a young backup that has not shown much in the big leagues, it might behoove the Mets to add one more catcher to give them further depth at that position. One option of course is Devin Mesoraco, who came over for Matt Harvey last season. In 66 games with the Mets he hit .222/.306/.409 but did show some pop with ten home runs. He developed a good rapport with Jacob deGrom, and ended up becoming his personal catcher for much of the season. Of course, he too could not stay healthy and has had injury troubles over the course of his career, but perhaps serving primarily as a backup could take some stress off his body and keep him healthy.
The other option is Martin Maldonado who the Mets had some interest in already this offseason. He is known more for his defense and offers little offensively but with Ramos now in the mix, the Mets can afford to have a more defensively-minded backup more so than when all of their options weren’t hitting.
Brodie Van Wagenen’s philosophy this offseason has been eliminating “ifs,” but the two catchers he currently has on his roster are both risks. If Wilson Ramos stays healthy, the Mets will be in good shape. If Travis d’Arnaud is fully recovered from Tommy John, he could have a bounce-back season. If Van Wagenen truly wants to build a roster with some depth, he needs to make one more move to shore up the catching position.