Mets may try turning catcher Travis d’Arnaud into a utility player
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets may keep all three of their catchers next year and turn Travis d’Arnaud into more than a backstop.
Rather than trade either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki this offseason, the New York Mets may go another route with the trio of catchers they currently employ. The addition of Wilson Ramos made it clear someone would need to move.
However, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com noted, a trade may not be the answer. Instead, they could turn d’Arnaud into a utility player.
I love the creative thinking here. I’m just not sold d’Arnaud is capable of moving from behind the plate out to anywhere other than first base.
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In 2017, d’Arnaud did play a little second base and third base. By a little, I mean 3.1 innings at the former and 5.2 at the latter. It all took place during a game against the New York Yankees when both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores were scratched from the lineup. He had only one chance during the game, successfully recording a putout at second base.
Per DiComo, first base and left field are two spots the Mets may think about using d’Arnaud. Left field worries me given his Tommy John Surgery last year. I’m still willing to see him try to become more than a below average catcher.
d’Arnaud doesn’t come across as the most athletic of athletes. Speed isn’t a big part of his game. Through 397 MLB games, he has only a single stolen base. This doesn’t necessarily equate to success in the field defensively, but it could mean he’s chasing after more balls hit over his head than we would like.
Keeping d’Arnaud as a more versatile catching option while naming Ramos the starter and Plawecki as the backup is a safe plan. Given the injury history of each, this saves us from a prolonged period of Tomas Nido behind the dish.
Losing Wilmer Flores this offseason took away one of the better utility options on the team. Jeff McNeil should take over a similar role. Other than him, though, this team doesn’t have too many “flexible” players.
Whether they trade Plawecki or not, it’s worth seeing what d’Arnaud could do at other positions. At the very least, it gives them more options.
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In 2018, not having a wide selection of choices was a major problem. If d’Arnaud can pull this off, he could give this team an insurance policy.