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Mets: Don’t be surprised if Stanford alumnus Jason Castro becomes a target

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 11: Jason Castro #15 of the Minnesota Twins hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field on June 11, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 11: Jason Castro #15 of the Minnesota Twins hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field on June 11, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
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Last offseason, New York Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen brought ex-client and fellow Stanford alumnus Jed Lowrie to the team. This winter, he may do the same with another former Stanford student, catcher Jason Castro.

New York Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen is a Stanford graduate who seems to have loyalty to his alma mater. When he brought in Jed Lowrie last offseason, it was more than bringing a former client to town. Lowrie, like BVW, is a former student at Stanford.

Since taking over as the general manager in Flushing, Van Wagenen has been linked to multiple Stanford graduates. Sam Fuld was an early candidate to replace Mickey Callaway. Ex-assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. also has a class ring from the California university. Although BVW didn’t hire him and the team has since moved on, there’s no denying the connection. A more direct affiliation is the hiring of Jessica Mendoza, another Stanford graduate. Van Wagenen is the reason why she gets a paycheck from the Mets.

When we’re looking at who the Mets could target this winter, we need to factor in both need and relationships. There’s something about coming from the same town or school that connects people. This is one reason why I could see the Mets going after free agent catcher Jason Castro this winter.

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Why would the Mets possibly need another catcher? With Wilson Ramos under contract and Tomas Nido as the backup, they could consider themselves set for next season. Although some would prefer to see the team trade Wilson Ramos and do something like sign Yasmani Grandal, a more likely scenario in my eyes is upgrading the second-stringer.

Nido didn’t do nearly enough to make me confident in his offensive abilities in 2020. A year of consistently hitting in Triple-A may pay off long-term. I don’t see him ever becoming a starter. In a backup role, however, he could have a fine career.

Castro doesn’t represent much more offensive than Nido could produce. He is a lifetime .231 hitter, but he does have good pop for a relatively docile hitter. He cracked 13 home runs for the Minnesota Twins last year in only 275 chances. During his years with the Houston Astros, he was typically good for a number in the low double-digits.

What makes Castro a worthwhile look is his past defensive success. He was a positive WAR on defense each year until 2019. For a large part of his career, he also showed other favorable signs behind the plate such as throwing out runners at an around league-average rate.

It wouldn’t take a lot of money for the Mets to land Castro. The 32-year-old just took home $24.5 million from the Twins. This winter, it feels as if he could be one of those veterans who settles for a bargain price. He’s no longer a platoon player. Castro is strictly a backup who can hold down the fort for a little while longer if needed.

I would like to see the Mets upgrade over Nido just in case Ramos does miss an extended time. We saw how essential this was in 2018 when Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki went down.

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Catchers matter on both sides of the baseball. At a low rate to secure a major league job, he’s someone I could see Van Wagenen eyeing if only to bring another Stanford alumni to the organization.

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