It’s rare to find a player with such an amazing trade history as New York Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud. He has already twice been traded for Cy Young winners.
The career path of New York Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been one of the most interesting in all of baseball. Thus far, his journey has included acute highs and lows, as well as inclusion in two of the biggest trades of the past decade.
d’Arnaud’s professional career began at the conclusion of his senior year of high school. As a highly touted prospect, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies with the 37th pick in the 2007 MLB draft. The young catcher showed excellent potential at the plate at the beginning of his minor league career. He hit for an average of .309 and was selected to the Class-A All-Star game during his first season.
The First Blockbuster
In 2010, d’Arnaud was a part of a historic trade that sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays. He and nine other players were moved in a deal that sent Cy Young winner and recent Hall of Fame inductee Roy Halladay to the Phillies. While the move was shocking, d’Arnaud didn’t show any signs of slowing down in Toronto’s farm system. He finished that season as an All-Star with a .259 batting average.
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d’Arnaud carried that momentum into 2011 and showed improved strength by hitting 21 home runs. He would go on to play in this sixth minor league All-Star game and would finish the season as the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player. As the year ended, d’Arnaud was considered to be the top catching prospect in baseball.
The Second Blockbuster
In December of 2012, d’Arnaud once again found himself on the trading block. This time, he was being traded to the Mets alongside Noah Syndergaard and fellow catcher John Buck. In return, the Mets sent reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto. For the second time in his career, the young prospect was traded for one of the best pitchers in the world.
d’Arnaud suffered his first major injury in the Mets’ system when he fractured his foot in March of 2013. However, upon recovery, the long-time minor leaguer was called up for his first taste of big-league action. He would play 31 games for the Mets in 2013 and finish with a .202 average over 99 at-bats. His best season came in 2014 when he maintained a solid .242 average with 22 home runs.
Over the next few seasons, d’Arnaud’s career began to take a downward turn. He would suffer multiple concussions, a broken hand, a sprained elbow, and an array of other minor injuries. With several stints on the disabled list, he also struggled to find his rhythm as a hitter and defender.
d’Arnaud’s average and power number began to drop, and he struggled with baserunners from behind the plate. The most devastating blow came early last season when d’Arnaud, the opening day starter, suffered a torn UCL in his throwing elbow that required Tommy John surgery. He would miss the rest of the season.
As the beginning of the 2019 season approaches, much of the allure surrounding d’Arnaud has dissipated. Not only is he no longer considered to be one of the best prospects in the game, but many teams do not even consider him to be a viable starter.
This season does, however, offer the catcher an opportunity to prove his value. With recent signee Wilson Ramos slated to be the team’s full-time starting catcher, d’Arnaud will serve as the primary backup. The reduced wear and tear on his body could allow him to finally regain his health and reestablish some of the confidence he once had. The team has also discussed the possibility of using the backstop as an occasional part-time first baseman.
A 2019 Prediction
One thing is certain, barring an unexpected trade, d’Arnaud is still expected to be a contributing part of the team this season. The benefit of additional rest and the potential opportunity for at-bats as a first baseman could be exactly what the 29-year-old needs get his career back on track.
If he is able to stay healthy, I predict d’Arnaurd will finish this season with double-digit home runs and a batting average above .250.
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Have we seen the last of trades involving d’Arnaud and former Cy Young winners or is another one in his future?