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NY Mets: Why Caleb Joseph was signed to a split contract

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Caleb Joseph #7 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action during the spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 25, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Caleb Joseph #7 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action during the spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 25, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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The New York Mets are putting an increased focus on acquiring depth in order to reconstruct a farm system that has been decimated in recent years. As a result, the team has aggressively sought to build back their depth, setting up their organization for future success.

Understanding the Mets strategy, it makes sense that the Mets signed Caleb Joseph. Although it is unlikely he will spend time in the majors, Joseph provides the team with another depth piece behind the plate. With COVID-19 still expected to play a role during the 2021 season, Joseph also serves as insurance in the event that the Mets experience an outbreak.

Joseph is a former seventh-round pick who made his debut with the Baltimore Orioles back in 2014. He would spend five seasons with the Orioles, serving as the team’s backup catcher. After leaving the Orioles, the Arizona Diamondbacks gave him another opportunity the following year, hitting .211/.250/.263 with three RBI over 20 games. Last season, Joseph was on the Blue Jays taxi squad, only logging three games in the big leagues, going 1-for-8 with one home run.

Joseph has been unable to find steady work in the big leagues because of his inability to produce offensively. He is a career .222/.270/.351 hitter in 1367 plate appearances. At 34 years old, it is unlikely that Joseph will see a career renaissance.

Caleb Joseph is a veteran catcher who isn’t an offensive threat, but he gives the Mets an additional depth piece in their farm system.

The reason why Joseph keeps getting an opportunity is because of his defensive instincts. Over seven major league seasons, Joseph has thwarted 31% of stolen-base attempts against him. He is also regarded as a strong pitch framer, which allows him to steal strikes for his pitchers.

But Joseph’s defense is not the reason they signed him. James McCann and Tomas Nido are adequate enough defensively that the addition of Joseph does not add something new to the team. What Joseph does do for the Mets is provide them an adequate replacement for Ali Sanchez, who was designated for assignment earlier this month. Once Sanchez was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets stood as a team who needed another catcher in their farm system.

According to Jon Morosi, Joseph signed a split contract with the Mets. A split contract calls for him to earn different salaries in the major and minor leagues. If Joseph spends time on the Mets active roster, he would earn the prorated portion of his major league salary.

The best case scenario for Joseph is that he pushes Nido in Spring Training and becomes the team’s catcher-in-waiting if McCann or Nido were to miss significant time. Either way, the Mets patch up their catching depth, and Joseph gets one last chance to extend his professional baseball career.

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