Mets have a solid backup catcher duo with Travis d’Arnaud, Devin Mesoraco
By Edward Lennon
The New York Mets brought back Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco for 2019. Which one is more deserving of a roster spot?
The New York Mets addressed their need at the catching position after they signed Wilson Ramos to a two-year $19 million contract in December. The 31-year old was an All-Star in 2018. Now, they need to figure out who is going to be his backup.
The Mets have Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco to choose between, and there are going to be many factors that will influence their decision. After being tendered a contract of $3.7 million in salary arbitration last November, the Mets should keep d’Arnaud on the roster and have him serve as Ramos’ backup.
d’Arnaud, who just turned 30 this month, only played in four games in 2018 due to a season-ending Tommy John Surgery. It was devastating to see him get hurt so early into the season because his 2017 campaign was his most impressive one yet, having career highs in games played, home runs and RBI. He was heading into 2018 with a lot of momentum and ready to do some damage. Tearing his UCL was awful fate for d’Arnaud.
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Mesoraco, who spent most of 2018 with the Mets after the Cincinnati Reds traded him and cash considerations for Matt Harvey, struggled offensively last year. Even though Mesoraco hit 25 home runs, hit .273, and was an All-Star in 2014 with the Reds, he has hit .203 since 2015. His career, similar to d’Arnaud’s, has been derailed by injuries. It includes hip surgery, a torn labrum, and a broken left foot. Earlier this month, the Mets re-signed him to a minor league deal, with an invite to Spring Training.
If they choose to only have two catchers on the roster, d’Arnaud should be Ramos’ backup.
Despite barely playing last year, he has developed relationships with many of the team’s pitchers, including starters Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. His offensive numbers were impressive in 2017 and showed much improvement. Most believed that his success would have continued if he did not require Tommy John Surgery. d’Arnaud is out of options and would either have to start the season on the roster or on the disabled list if the Mets wanted to hang onto him.
On the other hand, Mesoraco signed a minor league deal could potentially start the season in Triple-A. Adding Mesoraco was a smart move because he has the ability to start the season in the minors, and he is an experienced player to have in the organization. If Ramos or d’Arnaud were to get hurt, the Mets can call up Mesoraco.
Another reason why d’Arnaud adds more value is that New York plans on using him at multiple positions. Earlier this offseason, Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said he considers d’Arnaud versatile enough to play at first base, third base and left field, as well as catching.
This could lead to the Mets carrying three catchers on their roster. This would allow d’Arnaud to experiment at other positions while Mesoraco serves as Ramos’ backup. Doing this would make Jacob deGrom very satisfied. Mesoraco caught 21 of deGrom’s 32 games last year. The Cy Young has a special relationship with Mesoraco.
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As we will not see what the Mets will do regarding their catching situation until the end of Spring Training, it will be interesting to see how d’Arnaud performs at other positions and how he and Mesoraco both perform offensively.