Coming into the year, there wasn’t really a competition behind the plate for the Mets. James McCann, by way of making $10 million, was the guy, even after a less-than-enthralling 2021 season, and Tomás Nido was the reliable back-up. But a series of injuries suffered by McCann, along with his general ineffectiveness (to put it politely), opened the door for Nido, who ended up playing more than anybody reasonably expected during spring training. And, to be honest, he did a commendable job behind the dish.
Nido finished 2022 setting a career high in games played (96), games started (86), plate appearances and at-bats (313, 284), hits (68), doubles (15), runs scored (13), runs batted in (25), walks (14), and fWAR (0.4). None of those numbers really jump off the page, and the catcher’s spot, even when Nido was contributing, felt like a black hole, but he at least felt competent with the bat compared to a lot of the other options the team cycled through.
The funniest aspect of Nido’s offensive game, and one nobody could have predicted, was his proclivity for putting down perfectly-placed bunts. Not only did Nido lead the Mets with 12 sacrifice bunts, he led the entire league in them. It was no secret that he would be looking to bunt when the situation called for it, and it became a Thing. If nothing else, it appeased National League fans who missed watching the pitcher hit, because he got down bunts about as effectively as most starting pitchers did back in the day.
Nido showed minimal power, connecting on just three homers, which matched his total from 2021 and fell short of his career high of four, set in 2019. In fact, his homer-less streak extended to 111 games, the longest by a Mets position player since Ruben Tejada went 153 games without a long ball from 2012-2014. He carried that streak, which dated back to May 25, 2021, into a game on September 11 against the Marlins in Miami, where he finally broke through with a ninth inning home run. As a reward, his team gave him the silent treatment as he returned to the dugout. It was a nice moment, especially because you could tell Nido really wanted to break the streak after a few close calls—Gary Cohen said as much in the both following the drought-ending dinger.
In general, Nido’s September was his best month of 2022, slashing .333/.340/.608 with the three dingers and a 166 wRC+. This included five multi-hit games, including his lone three-hit game of the season, after he had just six multi-hit games from April through August. September was really the one month in which it felt like both backstops were hitting at a clip that didn’t make the catcher’s spot in the lineup feel like an automatic out.
But Nido’s contributions on offense paled in comparison to his defensive prowess, which got him the nod as a Gold Glove Finalist along with former Met Travis d’Arnaud and former future Met J.T. Realmuto—Realmuto would go on to win the award. He finished 2022 with a 16.8 FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average), which led all NL catchers and came in second only to the Yankees’ Jose Trevino. He also finds himself first in the NL in Catcher Defensive Adjustment (16.9), second in Framing (Called Strikes Above Average) Runs (15.3), and Called Strikes Above Average (0.018). All of those numbers improved on his 2021 statistics, which is when he set most of his defensive career highs. He ended 2022 with a .994 Fielding Percentage and threw out 21% of the runners who attempted to steal.
If nothing else, Nido has made the conversation about the backup catcher position interesting this winter. Francisco Álvarez figures to get a shot to win the starting job in spring training, and, as the team’s top prospect, it’s likely that he will be given every chance to seize the job during the spring. With the team unlikely to carry three catchers, the team will have to decide between Nido and the expensive McCann.
McCann will likely be difficult to unload, but you have to think the team will seriously explore it. Nido is eligible for arbitration in 2023 and 2024 before officially becoming a free agent in 2025, and McCann is under contract for those same two seasons. The team can non-tender Nido this winter, but his defensive performance should likely keep him in the conversation for next year, and could make him the perfect person to mentor the young Álvarez behind the plate. Especially given the pitching staff’s comfort level with Nido, he is not so easily replaceable, and should find himself back in a Mets uniform in 2023.