Mets Catcher Situation: Who suits up behind the plate in 2019?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: Kevin Plawecki #26 of the New York Mets looks on against the San Francisco Giants during their game at Citi Field on August 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: Kevin Plawecki #26 of the New York Mets looks on against the San Francisco Giants during their game at Citi Field on August 23, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

The New York Mets catching situation could look vastly different in 2019. Who are the options to suit up behind the dish next season?

There is a rich history of catchers to put on the New York Mets uniform from Jerry Grote to Gary Carter to Todd Hundley to Mike Piazza. Ever since number 31 left New York in 2005, the Mets have had some trouble filling the void.

We’ve seen some highly touted prospects since then, the first being Josh Thole, who didn’t quite work out. However, his ability to catch a knuckleball added him to the R.A. Dickey package that brought back Travis d’Arnaud who would be looked at as a huge upgrade behind the plate.

The Mets also had a former first-round draft pick, Kevin Plawecki, who raked in the minors and was ready to be called up in 2015. The Mets thought they had a good problem with a surplus of young catching talent.

It really just hasn’t turned out that way. Nobody has stepped up and run away with the catching job. d’Arnaud can’t stay on the field and Plawecki has had his own struggles with handling the running game and the bat.

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The Mets need to sit down and think about what the plan is moving forward. The pitching staff should be one of the best in the game. It’d be nice to have somebody reliable behind the plate taking charge of it all; kind of like Yadier Molina has done for the Cardinals for about 15 years now.

The first option the Mets have is to give the d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon another shot. It seemed like it was working for the first couple of weeks when the Mets just couldn’t lose, but next year it really depends whether or not d’Arnaud can bounce back from Tommy John Surgery. The Mets have team control of d’Arnaud for one more year and Plawecki through 2022.

The main problem here is that both of them have had an extremely tough time throwing runners out. Plawecki has thrown out just 10 of 60 base stealers this season and teams have taken advantage of him big time. Last season d’Arnaud threw out just 11 of 66 base stealers. Neither of their offensive games has made up for the defensive woes either.

Tomas Nido could be another option next season, at least as a backup. In far less playing time Nido has already gotten halfway to Plawecki’s caught stealing total.

Again the problem is Nido’s offense. He has shown some signs that he can hit. In 2016 at St. Lucie he hit .320 with a .357 OBP and an .816 OPS but hasn’t done much of note since. His defense is a definite upgrade as Mickey Callaway has appointed him as Noah Syndergaard’s personal catcher.

The trade market option is tough with the top prize being J.T. Realmuto of the Miami Marlins. There’s no doubt he’s a great player, and he will almost definitely be available this offseason as anyone in Miami with some talent will be. But the asking price is very high, and the Marlins will be asking about players like Peter Alonso, Andres Gimenez, and Justin Dunn. Would it be worth it to part with some huge prospects to get an established catcher?

Another interesting trade partner could be the San Diego Padres for their young catcher Austin Hedges. As a former top prospect, Hedges hasn’t really turned into what they expect. The Padres acquired top catching prospect Francisco Mejia from Cleveland this year.

Since the trade Hedges has heated up a bit, but San Diego plans on making Mejia the guy moving forward. I wonder if the Mets and Padres would be interested in a low-cost deal, maybe Gavin Cecchini could go the other way to make it sort of a “former top prospects getting a change of scenery” trade.

On the free agent market, this offseason are two big names, Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal.

Let’s start with Ramos, the two-time All-Star is about to turn 31, hitting a whopping .361 with a .409 OBP and a .927 OPS since joining the Phillies. Ramos controls the running game very well and as I showed you his offense is not an issue. The only real issue here is his health. He has spent a lot of time on the DL in his career, but what everyday catcher hasn’t.

Grandal may be a cheaper option this winter as he doesn’t hit or field as well as Ramos, though he is a year younger. Grandal doesn’t ever sport a flashy batting average, and last year getting on base was a large issue too, but he has upped his OBP to .344 this season. I’d love to see the Mets give one of these two guys a multi-year deal.

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