D’Arnaud, who turns 25 in February, was acquired as part of the R.A. Dickey trade last offseason, but had his 2013 campaign derailed by a freak foot injury he suffered while behind the plate.
Here’s what MLB.com had to say about d’Arnaud:
If it hadn’t been for injuries, d’Arnaud would be off this list. Despite missing time with a knee injury in 2012 and a broken foot in ’13, he made his Major League debut in August. Traded twice for Cy Young Award winners, he is ready for a full-time gig in the big leagues. The 24-year-old has the chance to be an outstanding offensive player with the ability to hit for average and power. He’s not a slouch behind the plate, either, with more than enough catch-and-throw skills to be an everyday player. All d’Arnaud needs is health, because he has the skill set to be one of the best all-around catchers in the National League.
There are actually some fans who are down on d’Arnaud based off the .202/.286/.263 triple slash he put up for the Mets last season. They disregard the fact that d’Arnaud was rusty, getting his first taste of the majors, and that the numbers compiled were an extraordinarily small sample size (99 at bats).
For comparison, during his first major league season at age 23, Mike Piazza put up a triple slash of .232/.284/.319 in 69 at bats. This is not to compare d’Arnaud and Piazza. Rather, it’s to hammer home the point that most players struggle a bit during their initial exposure to the big leagues.
Players need time to adjust to the majors, and d’Arnaud is no different. His microscopic sample size last year doesn’t erase what made him the best catching prospect in baseball.
As MLB.com points out, d’Arnaud has a chance to be an offensive minded catcher who’s also a solid defender. Catchers like that are few and far between. They sell him short a bit regarding his defensive skills, especially his pitch framing ability that was raved about by those on the pitching staff last season.
In d’Arnaud, the Mets have a catcher who has plus tools on both offense and defense. It’s unlikely that he’ll hit for prodigious power (few catchers ever have), but he should be good for 15 or 20 homers a year. Add that to his ability to hit for average, and his defensive skills, and you get someone who can be one of the cornerstones of this franchise for years to come.