The Catching Situation

Tonight on Hot Stove from the Winter Meetings, Kevin Burkhardt asked Sandy Alderson about the catching situation. Alderson did not seem high on incumbent Josh Thole, nor did the general banter on the show endorse the return of Kelly Shoppach. For the Mets last year, Shoppach hit .203 with 3 HR and 10 RBI. For his career, Shoppach is a .226 hitter with 67 HR and 207 RBI over 8 seasons. Thole hit .234 with 1 HR and 21 RBI in 2012, and is a .261 hitter with 7 HR and 67 RBI over 4 seasons.

Sept 2, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach (6) tosses his bat after being hit by a pitch during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In looking at the trade market for catchers, the Red Sox may be willing to deal a receiver, having signed Mike Napoli today. There have been rumors about the availability of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit .222 with 25 HR and 59 RBI for Boston last year. Salty is a switch hitter, which would be an added bonus. J.P. Arencibia of Toronto presents another option. Arencibia hit .233 with 18 HR and 56 RBI last year. Other names we’ve heard over the last year include Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, and John Buck.

Essentially, there does not seem to be a great option available for the Mets, either internally, via free agency, or via trade. Of the players that are available, I’d try to pry Salty away from the BoSox. Salty is 27 years old, and may have an upside that Shoppach and Hernandez may not. His ability to bat from both sides of the plate will give the Mets options as to when he should start or be rested, and when Salty is on the bench, he’d provide 2 pinch-hitting options. Salty is considered a better bat from the left side, which could displace Thole. That however could provide other possibilities, as the Mets could then look at some of the available catchers to complement Salty, most of whom are RH hitters.

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