If you hopped in the time machine on May 8, 2018 and went all the way back to sometime around the 2013 All-Star Break to tell fans that the Mets had just traded Matt Harvey, the likely (printable) responses would likely be “Who’d we get? Xander Bogaerts? Mookie Betts? Both of ‘em?” However, life comes at you fast, and given how the The Dark Knight’s Gotham stint unraveled in such an unfortunate manner, acquiring a cromulent catcher for a 2018 squad ravaged by injury at the position was not the worst possible final result, as Devin Mesoraco arrived in Queens from the Queen City in exchange for Harvey.
Mesoraco had found himself in a similar—if less dramatic—circumstance as Harvey. After an excellent 2014 season (25 home runs, 80 RBIs, 4.7 bWAR), injuries and performance issues rendered Mesoraco a disappointment in Cincinnati. With Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki both on the DL, Mesoraco became the primary starter immediately upon his arrival. The catcher got off to such an impressive start in his new home—7 home runs, a .221 ISO and 121 wRC+ over his first 129 at-bats—there was speculation the Mets should look to extend him before he hit free agency.
However, Mesoraco fought a neck injury and regressed offensively over the second half, finishing the season with a .221/.303/.398 slash line, recording a 0.7 fWAR. Defensive metrics were mixed on Mesoraco, with him building a lot of that fWAR on the strength of defensive metrics, while framing numbers rated him much lower. One particularly important arbiter of catching acumen certainly rated Mesoraco highly, though, as he became something of a de facto personal catcher for Jacob deGrom, catching 21 of deGrom’s final 25 starts. And while the concept of personal catchers always sounds a bit absurd, it’s hard to argue with anything involving one of the great pitching seasons in history.
After the Mets somewhat surprisingly traded Kevin Plawecki, and even more surprisingly picked up Travis d’Arnaud’s option, it was yet another catching surprising to see them sign Mesoraco as potential depth. Mesoraco and d’Arnaud should battle it out in spring for the backup catching spot behind new starter Wilson Ramos.
While d’Arnaud offers at least the potential of some positional versatility, Mesoraco comes cheaper and perhaps has his experience with the staff ace on his side. It should be one of the more interesting roster battles to watch this spring. Of course, if feasible, having both in the organization would be welcome, as depth behind them in the organization is thin behind the still-developing Tomas Nido.