Well, here we are; a day after looking at how J.P. Arencibia could be a fit for the Mets in 2013 and beyond at catcher, today we’ll see what prospect Travis d’Arnaud could do for teams looking to add catcher depth this winter. Although he hasn’t made his MLB debut, d’Arnaud has already made plenty of headlines in his professional career, as he was one of the players swapped between the Phillies and Blue Jays when Toronto decided to deal Roy Halladay. Now, the soon-to-be 24-year-old looks ready to contribute at the highest level, and with one too many catchers on the Blue Jays roster, opposing teams are chomping at the bit to acquire a talent like this.
Selected 37th overall by the Phillies in the 2007 first-year amateur draft, the young catcher didn’t start making a name for himself until he hit .305/.367/.464 with 6 homers and 30 RBI in 64 games played between low and high Class-A ball in 2008. Despite seeing his average dip the next season to .255, d’Arnaud did drive in 71 runs in a career-high 126 games played, which landed him the honor of being ranked #81 on Baseball America’s top prospect list. He’s continued to increase his value each season, jumping to #36 prior to 2011, and was sitting at #17 before this past season.
Before tearing his PCL this past June, ending his Triple-A season prematurely, he was enjoying the best overall year of his career, posting a .333/.380/.595 line with 16 homers and 52 RBI. This was done in the Pacific Coast League, notorious for being a league dominated by hitters, but he did more of the same the year prior in Double-A, hitting .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers and 78 RBI.
d’Arnaud has had his ups and downs throughout the minor leagues, which is bound to happen, especially for a young player drafted straight out of high school; however, it looks as though he has the right amount of seasoning before getting his chance in the Majors. He’s enjoyed three seasons of hitting over .300, three seasons of 10+ homers, and three seasons of 50+ RBI, with all three of these statistical milestones happening in his last two seasons.
When I look at power potential for a young player moving forward, the most important statistic for me is the amount of doubles they hit from year-to-year. If they’re able to be consistently hitting pitches for extra bases, then there is a good chance they will develop legitimate home run power as they become fully developed as a Major Leaguer. How has d’Arnaud done in this department? He’s hit 20 or more doubles four times in his professional career, with them all coming within the last four seasons, consecutively.
The best part is, he’s not just all about the offense; although his career caught-stealing percentage is only 25%, he’s posted 30%-27%-30% rates within his last three seasons, while sporting a career fielding percentage of .990. He’s highly regarded not only in the Blue Jays organization, but in all of baseball, as it’s not often a catcher with his kind of talent makes his way through the minors, ready to make his big splash.
So, could he be a fit on the Mets? If New York couldn’t fit him into their plans, then there would be something wrong here. He’s yet another right-handed hitting catcher who can hit for power, and is under team control for the better part of the decade. However, since he has such raw talent and his ceiling for success is so high, I wouldn’t be surprised Toronto does everything they can to hold onto him and let him grow while sharing time with John Buck at the Major League level in a Blue Jay uniform, especially now that the team has a solid offensive core after the mega-deal they recently finalized.
I wouldn’t expect d’Arnaud’s name being brought up often when it comes to trade rumors because of that. Also, although he’s a highly touted prospect, he’s still an unknown commodity against MLB competition, so teams may not be as willing to give up top shelf talent for him as they would for Arencibia, who has already begun establishing himself in Toronto. When it comes down to everything, the Mets wouldn’t want to part with the types of players the Blue Jays would want in order to land d’Arnaud, but Arencibia’s price could be right for New York to make a deal. They’re rumored to be looking for a back-of-the-rotation starter for next season, and an Arencibia-for-Dillon Gee swap makes a lot of sense. That would add power to a lineup starving for some (without trading any of it away), while not depleting their starting pitching much, allowing them to explore other options for an outfield bat.
It would be nice to dream about Travis d’Arnaud, but I think that’s all us fans will get to do, as the Blue Jays should be trying to hold onto him for as long as possible.
Which catcher do you think has a better chance of being a Met next season, Travis d’Arnaud or J.P. Arencibia?