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New York Mets: Steve Cohen’s first big signing shouldn’t be J.T. Realmuto

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 15: J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies plays catcher during a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on August 15, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 15: J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies plays catcher during a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on August 15, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 6-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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J.T. Realmuto shouldn’t be the first big splash Steve Cohen makes when he takes over ownership of the New York Mets.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen is set to become the next owner of the New York Mets. Fans are excited primarily because they’re optimistic that he will be willing to spend money on big names without hesitation, a privilege they did not enjoy under the Wilpons.

A name that Mets fans were mentioning as a potential acquisition two years ago has come back: J.T. Realmuto.

Wilson Ramos is 33 years old, has never been a good defensive catcher, and hasn’t been able to get his bat going this season. The team’s backup catchers aren’t capable starters.

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Tomas Nido is one of the best defensive catchers in the game and was doing well at the plate before landing on the IL, but he can’t be a long-term starter. The Mets’ second-best prospect, Francisco Alvarez, is a catcher but he’s a ways away, not expected to be called up until 2023.

The team will absolutely have a problem at catcher that will need to be addressed during the offseason.

Realmuto is currently the best catcher in the league who is set to become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason. He and the Philadelphia Phillies are the focus of controversy. It has come as a surprise to most that the Phillies have yet to negotiate a contract extension with him.

If that remains to be the case and Realmuto does hit free agency, the Mets will certainly emerge as front-runners to sign him. However, doing so would be a mistake.

For one, Realmuto will be 30 years old next season and is very likely to be signed to the biggest contract in history for a catcher. Signing a 30-year-old position player to a long-term, record-setting deal, is never ideal, and that’s even more so the case with catchers.

It’s the most injury-prone position and Realmuto isn’t exactly a spring chicken.

Who knows how much longer he’ll play as a catcher before having to be moved to either first base or serving as a permanent designated hitter? His bat is obviously valuable to any lineup, but the Mets already have a surplus of players who can serve as DHs.

And it’s not like the Mets are set everywhere else. They have other needs that must be addressed.

Next year’s rotation will likely be comprised of Jacob deGrom, David Peterson, and Noah Syndergaard (who won’t even be ready when the season begins as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery). The Mets are going to need to allocate some money to acquire at least one starter. They may also be looking for an outfielder, as many expect.

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They do need to do something about the catching situation but signing a superstar to solve that problem isn’t the right thing to do. A Realmuto mega-deal can easily become just another disastrous Mets contract.

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