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Tomas Nido figures to be the Mets’ backup catcher again in 2020

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The young backup catcher could end seeing a lot of game action for the 2020 Mets, one way or another.

New York Mets v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After spending short stints with the Mets in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Tomas Nido managed to stick with the Mets for most of the 2019 season. The dismissal of Travis d’Arnaud on April 28th cleared room for Nido to solidify his position as the team’s backup catcher. Following his first extended run of big league service time in 2019, Nido has played 89 big league games, and logged almost 250 at bats in his career.

In that time, the strengths and weaknesses in Nido’s game have become abundantly clear. Nido is an excellent defensive catcher, both in terms of his ability to frame pitches and in helping to control the running game. While Nido’s defense is superb, his offensive game has failed to develop much. With his defensive abilities, Nido figures to have a place on the major league roster, especially in a season in which he is out of options, and in which expanded rosters may allow you shield him from having to hit too regularly. However, his offensive shortcomings will make it difficult for the Mets to get much production out of the catcher position if an injury to either Wilson Ramos or Rene Rivera forces Nido into a starting role for any lengthy period of time.

Nido was drafted in the eighth round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Orangwood Christian High School in Maitland, Florida, and spent four seasons in the low minors before breaking out with the St. Lucie Mets in 2016. As a 22 year old in the Florida State League, Nido hit .320/.357/.459 in 370 PAs, and was eventually named the MVP of the league. He started the following season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and generally struggled, hitting just .232/.287/.354 in 404 PAs in the Eastern League. Despite his struggles, Nido was a September call-up at the end of the season, and made his major league debut on September 13, 2017. Nido ended up playing in five games and logging 10 at bats for the Mets in 2017, hitting .300/.300/.400 in his first taste of big league action. He spent 2018 bouncing between Double-A, Triple-A, and the Major Leagues, and generally struggled at the plate, hitting just .167/.200/.238 and a 20 wRC+ in 90 plate appearances for the Mets.

Nido started the 2019 season as the Mets’ backup catcher with Travis d’Arnaud starting the season on the disabled list. Nido returned to Triple-A when d’Arnaud was activated from the disabled list on April 6, and hit .289/.300/.316 in 40 plate appearances across 12 games before being recalled to replace d’Arnaud after he was designated for assignment on April 28. Nido took over the backup catcher role behind Wilson Ramos for the remainder of the season. The highlight of Nido’s season came on May 25, when he hit a walk-off homer in against the Tigers in the 13th inning. While he had his moments, Nido continued to struggle enormously on the offensive side of the ball. In 144 plate appearances, Nido hit just .191/.231/.316 and four home runs, which correlated to a 40 wRC+ that was the 13th lowest mark among hitters who logged at least 120 plates appearances last season.

While Nido struggled offensively, he developed a reputation for being a superb defender, with a few members of the Met’s pitching staff expressing a desire to pitch to Nido instead of the team’s starter, Wilson Ramos. Nido put up an average pop time on throws to second of 1.94, which was the 6th best in all of baseball according to Baseball Savant. Nido also graded out as an above average pitch framer, ranking 19th in baseball in framing runs according to Baseball Prospectus, and was the 21st best framer in baseball according to Baseball Savant’s Runs Extra Strikes leaderboard. His excellent defense was not enough to offset the deficit created by his lack of offensive production in 2020, grading out as below replacement level by both fWAR and bWAR, posting -0.5 fWAR and -0.8 bWAR.

After spending parts of three seasons at the big league level, we probably have enough data to know what Nido is capable of at the big league level. While he figures to serve primarily as the team’s backup catcher behind Wilson Ramos, he is probably best suited to late inning defensive replacement duties, especially if the team is aggressive in limiting his playing time on the offensive side of the ball. Nido is probably fine as a backup catcher, especially if the Mets decide to carry a third catcher on their expanded rosters, but the fact that Nido is exactly one injury away from a significantly larger role on the team is a strong indictment of the team’s lack of catching depth. For the second straight year, the Mets will enter the season willing to roll the dice that the health of Wilson Ramos and Rene Rivera will keep Nido from having to log too many at bats over the course of the season.