The New York Mets are deep. They have the most pitching depth in baseball. They have a deep outfield and a few solid utility players. Most would say they have a team with championship potential. I’d agree if they only had a solid catcher.
In 1969, they had Jerry Grote. He was only 26 but he was second to Johnny Bench in the National League in setting up the strike zone and throwing out base runners. Grote had 40 RBI that season, a career high and hit when it was necessary.
In 1986, the Mets had Gary Carter, the best catcher who ever played for the franchise. He was the ultimate leader, he calmed the younger pitchers down when necessary, he could hit and throw out runners.
It’s not a coincidence that they won a championship with two strong backstops.
Mike Piazza was great but was bad at throwing out base stealers. Travis d’Arnaud is well below average regarding throwing out base stealers and as a hitter. At this point the Mets need a starting catcher. Rene Rivera can only play a limited amount of games.
d’Arnaud, now 27, is going through another off-season of working with a throwing coach. It’s not working. He’s barely throwing out anybody in spring training and his arm got wild yesterday throwing one in the outfield. He’s not worthy of 500 at-bats and probably will never be healthy enough to get that many. d’Arnaud had a WAR of -0.8 in 2016. Rivera’s was 0.4. Grote was 15.1 in his career and Carter a staggering 69.9.
The Mets could have been in on Matt Wieters ($10.5 million with a second year out if Wieters doesn’t want to stay for 2 years). GM Sandy Alderson was possibly looking for a bargain price below what the Nationals paid which wasn’t realistic. The Rangers acquired Jonathan Lucroy ($5.25 million) in a trade, they didn’t give up that much, and they exercised an option in his deal. He would have been great for the Mets but they didn’t want to lose any assets.
d’Arnaud is making $1.875 million. You get what you pay for. He’s puts a strain on the pitching staff because teams run on him. The pitchers get blamed for slow deliveries and tried slide steps and it doesn’t matter. Even if he’s great at framing pitches he’s failing in most of his other duties.
Alderson needs to move an asset like Seth Lugo and possibly one more to get a catcher and finalize this roster. The Royals loved having d’Arnaud behind the plate in the World Series back in 2015. It helped them tremendously. The Mets are good enough to win it all. Alderson just needs to trade for a catcher. It’s not that hard. Other teams have done it. He needs to do it.