Mets Spring Training Battle: Tomas Nido vs. Rene Rivera for backup catcher
By Tim Boyle
Rene Rivera should give Tomas Nido some good competition this spring for the New York Mets backup catcher job. Does either have an edge?
Spring training battles between backup catchers are about as thrilling as the preseason competition between third-string quarterbacks. Although, if you’re simply a fan of two men competing against each other, you may enjoy this spring training fight between New York Mets teammates Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera for the right to play second-fiddle to Wilson Ramos.
The Mets went into the offseason potentially looking to upgrade the backup catcher spot. They never did, instead relying on the possibility of Nido taking on the role again in 2020.
Recently, they did decide to bring back Rivera, giving Nido a little more competition than he previously had. This is good news for this team’s fortunes. Nido hasn’t done enough to slide into the backup role again in 2020.
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In this battle, Nido has a clear advantage. Rivera is on a minor league contract and Nido is out of options. If Rivera wins the job, they could lose Nido for good. With a Nido victory, the team can proceed with caution and allow Rivera to continue on with the Syracuse Mets until needed in the show.
It feels necessary for the Mets to have some kind of competent backup catcher in 2020. An ongoing storyline in 2019 was about Noah Syndergaard’s dissatisfaction with Ramos behind the plate. Jacob deGrom was equally as frustrated with the veteran catcher, too.
Neither had as much of a problem with Nido or Rivera. In fact, both seem to have fit in well as Thor’s personal catcher.
Mickey Callaway continually denied Syndergaard actually had his own personal catcher even though there was a stretch when one of these two seemed to find their way onto the lineup card whenever he was on the mound.
Things could be different in 2020 with Luis Rojas calling the shots. The team has had an offseason to look things over again and decide if a personal catcher is actually good for this organization.
Defensively, I’m not sure either player has an advantage. On offense, I feel Rivera may have a greater chance of putting together a productive year. Nido is a decade younger, but Rivera has consistently performed to the level needed for a backup catcher. All the Mets need is a .230 hitter. Can we count on Nido to do this?
I believe the Mets will give Nido the opportunity to compete in spring training. However, I don’t think they will hesitate to DFA him. There’s always a chance he stays with the organization anyway due to his lack of success and a limited interest around baseball in his services.
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Whichever direction the Mets go, the winner will ultimately just hold down the spot until someone like Ali Sanchez is ready perhaps by the end of the year or 2021. Further down the road, we’ll be lucky to see future spring training battles between backup catchers. At that point, maybe it will be Francisco Alvarez they’ll be backing up.