Instead of signing Johnny Monell, the New York Mets should have targeted the much more experienced catcher Derek Norris.
Monell has some experience with the Mets, logging 27 games for them in 2015. During his time with the Mets, he hit .167 with a .439 OPS. He hasn’t played in the majors since.
This season he signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. On March 28, he was released. Before this season, he also played for the KT Wiz of the KBO League, hitting a terribly low .165. In spite of these terrible numbers in a league known for favoring hitters, the Mets thought he was worth a reunion.
It’s true that the Mets are in need of a catcher because of the injuries to Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud. However, even if Monell only stays in the minors to fill the spot of Tomas Nido or José Lobatón, the Mets could have done better.
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Specifically, they could have made an attempt to bring on Derek Norris instead.
Norris spent his career with a plethora of teams. On December 5, 2017, he signed with the Detroit Tigers, who were his fifth team since his debut in 2012.
Unfortunately for the journeyman backstop, Norris didn’t make it out of Spring Training. The Tigers also released him on just ahead of Opening Day on March 28.
Regardless of whether Norris stays in the minors or in Flushing, he would have been a much better option. After all, he is three years younger than Monell and a far better hitter.
Last season was the shortest of Norris’ career, playing in only 53 games for the Rays, but he hit .201 with nine home runs. If he had the same number of at-bats that he had in 2015 and 2016, he would have been on pace for 20 to 25 home runs.
Perhaps Norris’ off-field issues scared off the Mets. As many baseball fans may recall, Norris was suspended by MLB late last season for domestic assault. With Jose Reyes already on the big league roster, it’s possible the Mets wanted to avoid any other controversy which may have followed.
Norris would have also been relatively cheap. With Plawecki expected to miss just a couple weeks, maybe it won’t even matter. Whose to say what happens when Plawecki comes back? Only time will tell what would have been the better option.