d'arnaud plaweckiTo say that the 2016 season was a disappointing one for Met’s catchers would be a bit of an understatement.  Entering the season, catcher seemed to be a position of strength with a healthy Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki with another year of major league experience under his belt.  Between injuries and poor play the Mets were forced to look outside the organization for help by picking up Rene Rivera off waivers from the Tamp Bay Rays.

The Mets could really use a bounce back season from the often injured d’Arnaud.  To help him regain his form the club has hired Glen Sherlock as a third base coach/catching instructor. Not only did he have a poor offensive season of 4 HR, 15 RBIs, and a .247 batting average, he also had a rough year defensively.  Playing in only 75 games he gave up 61 stolen bases, while catching 17 runners.  His overall confidence seemed to be a bit off perhaps having to do with multiple injuries and the team leaning more onto newcomer Rivera.

Kevin Plawecki started 2016 as the Mets backup catcher hitting 1 HR with 11 RBIs in 48 games played.  He eventually lost his spot to Rivera who stabilized the team’s rotation and added some pop with 6 HR and 26 RBIs in 65 games.  He was also solid defensively and became Noah Syndergaard’s personal catcher.  He gave up 43 stolen bases while catching 18 runners.

The Mets had a chance to go after Matt Wieters who remains unsigned to take over the position but seems content to begin the season with d’Arnaud entrenched as the starter.  They are hoping that the combination of Glen Sherlock taking over as a catching instructor and a healthy offseason will do the trick for d’Arnaud.  Rene Rivera was brought back on a 1 year deal for 1.75 million dollars to serve as the team’s backup and insurance policy for d’Arnaud.

Waiting in the minors will be Plawecki, who the team feels will be better served getting full time action at Triple A Las Vegas. Hopefully the hitter friendly environment and frequent at bats will serve him well in the future.  The Mets also have a promising young catcher in the minors Tomas Nido.

Tomas Nido had a stellar 2016 season with 7 HR 46 RBI while hitting for a .320 Batting Average in advanced A ball.  He was rewarded for his outstanding season by being added to the team’s 40-man roster in November to protect him from the rule five draft.  While the soon to be 23- year old catcher may not be quite ready in 2017 he could be someone to watch for a September call and the 2018 season.

The Mets will be looking for an uptick in the offensive output from the catching position.  Last season they got a combined 11 HR and 47 RBIs from their catchers.  Even with this underwhelming output the team was still able to reach the postseason for a second consecutive season.  A better showing from d’Arnaud, along with a healthy and full season from Lucas Duda and David Wright could do wonders for the Mets offense heading into 2017.

28 comments on “The Mets’ catching situation heading into 2017

  • Sinhalo27

    The move to make is/was Wieters. TDA cannot be trusted to stay healthy nor to produce on offense or defense. Wieters is a proven leader, controls the running game and is a switch hitter with pop. Strong catchers are invaluable pieces to winning teams. The teams that are in the mix usually have strong catchers as their backbones.

    • Mike Ryan

      I would have preferred the mets to go after Wieters as well, though I am optimistic on d’Arnaud’s chances this season.

  • NYM6986

    It is Tda’s inability to throw out runners that has me more concerned. If Duda is hitting and we get something out of Wright in the 6 hole we can absorb his streaky hitting. We cannot allow teams to run us to the same degree as the last few years. Rivera may be one of our key signings in the offseason.

  • Metsense

    There were 33 National League catchers with 100 AB’s or more. None of the three Met catchers ranked in the top 15 offensively therefore the Met catching core were all backend, backup catchers offensively. Rivera did crack the top 15 defensively (based on Fangraphs) but only at 13th which is still much better than d’Arnaud and Plawecki. The Mets need to upgrade this position to a better player than Rivera and have the new player become their starting catcher or at least a platoon player. The Mets could then keep d’Arnaud and/or Plawecki as backups because neither has proven themselves as starting catchers. d’Arnaud and Plawecki are both younger, controlled, and have a higher ceiling than the 33 year old Rivera. If TDA should fail again or get injured, Rene Rivera is not the solution as a starter. Hopefully, TDA won’t fail.

    • Jimmy P

      Travis was hurt last season and, I would contend, you have to keep that in consideration when making these kinds of absolute pronouncements. Offensively, he was a proven starting catcher in 2015.

      I do agree that he should be pushed and that the Mets needed to do better than Rivera, who offensively is a black hole, particularly if over-exposed.

      I believe a healthy d’Arnaud is a bona fide starting MLB catcher and an asset to the offense.

      As they say, that’s a big “if.”

  • MattyMets

    The fumble here was not passing on Weiters. It was failing to trade for Lucroy. There are only a handful of quality catchers in baseball right now and others besides Lucroy are not available (Posey, Molina, Perez, Sanchez) older and expensive (Russell, McCann) or coming off a serious injury (Ramos). Anyone else you can think of might present a marginal upgrade over TDA, but would either be a lot more expensive or require pieces in a trade. Weiters is also injury prone and inconsistent, and several years older. TDA is still cheap and has upside. Given the circumstances, I agree with Alderson’s decision to give TDA one more shot.

    • Jimmy P

      I agree completely, was hoping Lucroy would become available a year ago at this time.

      Not sure Mets had the chips for that deal, it’s hard to say.

      But yes, given circumstances, I think the play was to give TDA one more shot . . . while also giving him a competitive catching partner (upgrade over Rivera).

      If TDA fails, or gets hurt, position becomes a glaring weakness. A lot resting on his (recently injured, still unproven) shoulders.

  • Eraff

    Catcher is a major question mark, but there is a good argument that the Mets can solve it well with what they have in-house. The Mets have a lot of tradeable resources available, and I believe that’s a big plus coming out of hot stove. They will have to answer to The Three Back Surgery Infielders and 4 Arm Injury Pitchers. Some of that will need addressing…catching would be a deep 3rd in line.

  • Eraff

    I’m going on Record: I still like Plawecki. I have never liked d’Arnaud, but he will knock in 60 runs with any health….easily

    • Sinhalo27

      Agree- still like Plawecki too. Fun Fact- Plawecki is +19 DRS in his career whereas TDA is -22, that’s a 41 run swing.

      • Brian Joura

        Where are you getting those stats? That’s not what FG has for either player.

        • Name
          • Brian Joura


            I didn’t realize B-R had a stat similar to DRS. It’s important to note that it’s not DRS but Rdrs. I mean, it’s even listed that way on the page. It’s one thing to just label it WAR – since that’s what both B-R and FG do – but if the site specifically has another name for it — for Pete’s sake, use the name!! And people should also distinguish between fWAR and rWAR.

            This comparison is misleading because TDA has more than twice the playing time that KP does and this is a counting stat. It’s no different than me saying TDA has a 102-32 edge in RBIs.

            The overwhelming majority of TDA’s negative value comes in 2014, before KP was in the majors. In the time when they were both active, TDA had a -5 Rdrs. And also, KP’s Rdrs numbers took a giant hit in 2016.

        • Sinhalo27

          Bbref… whom also uses baseball info solutions like FG… definition…

          BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Avg
          The number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made.
          This number combines the Rpm, Rbdp, Rbof, Rbcatch numbers into a total defensive contribution.
          Provided by Baseball Info Solutions

          • Brian Joura

            The main point is that the stat you quoted is Rdrs not DRS. Call it the right thing and there wouldn’t be an issue.

            • Sinhalo27

              It’s not a convo over a single letter- call it Rdrs, DRS, PBJ, OPP, etc… the metric is the same and the main point (not a single-letter strawman) was and is that KP smashes TDA as a backstop.

              • Brian Joura

                No, the metric is not the same. If it was the same, it would have the same results on different sites and it clearly doesn’t. It’s not just about letters; they are clearly calculated a different way. I don’t know how to make that any more obvious to you than that. ,

                TDA was a terrible defensive player in 2014. He’s been below average the past two seasons. KP was a terrific defensive player in 2015. He was average in 2016. There is a difference but it’s nowhere near as big as you’re making it out to be. As anyone who watched KP bounce throws at the end of his regular playing time stint to both 2B and 3B last year would know.

                • Chris F

                  let me help out here. Neither catcher is an every day major leaguer.

                • Sinhalo27

                  Of course a good catcher should be skilled at curbing the run game but if those SBs do not lead to runs then they are irrelevant. Rtot may be what you’re thinking of as it is more of an averaged statistic whereas DRS/Rdrs is an accumulation. When TDA finished as worst defensive C or as TSN in 2014 put it anti-GG for C’s in MLB it was on the back of said metric. Even if on the same guy John Dewan, BIS is that which is officially referenced by MLB itself.

                  • Brian Joura

                    TDA was awful in 2014. That’s not what he was the following two years.
                    KP was terrific in 2015. That’s not what he was in 2016.

                    You can’t just throw everything together and have an accurate picture of what they are now.

                    Also, I don’t believe pitch framing is included in DRS or Rdrs. Stat Corner had TDA at 8 RAA and KP at 4 RAA. I know pitch framing is not included in DRS, so I’ll use that.

                    TDA – (-7) DRS + 8 RAA = 1 run in 2016
                    KP – 1 DRS + 4 RAA = 5 runs in 2016

                    But even as god awful as TDA was with the bat last year, my guess is he was still a more valuable player than KP. They both had a 0.1 fWAR and TDA’s pitch framing was better.

                    As Chris F. pointed out, neither one is a starting player at the rate they played last year. I believe TDA’s bat is significantly better than what he showed in 2016. It wouldn’t surprise me if KP was better defensively than he showed last year. But I don’t believe in his bat right now at all.

                    And if all you want is a defensive catcher – just play Rene Rivera and be done with it.

  • Jimmy P

    Plawecki is only 25.

    He sort of hit a little bit in the minors. His year in AA was encouraging. Vegas, shrug, not really.

    To date, in the MLB in 365 ABs his line is .211/.287/.285.

    In other words, just horrendous.

    If those numbers look bad, watching him hit looked worse. Pitiful.

    However, sure, catchers tend to develop late (if they develop at all). Maybe he makes the leap. Stranger things have happened.

    OTOH: Travis d’Arnaud, in 235 ABs in 2015 put up a slash of .268/.340/.485 with 12 HRs. An OPS+ of 126.

    I personally don’t believe that KP will ever sniff numbers anything close to that.

    As always, I could be wrong. Play ball!

  • Sinhalo27

    Certainly not much more than once a week for Thor with RR. That pitch framing of TDA doesn’t amount to much if anything when he can’t stay on the field which is an extremely important factor- plus his CERA which is not as good as RR or KP- which as he enters arb is making him more and more of a liability and weakens the team at one of the most important positions on the field. Which brings us back to the original point- very first sentence of the thread- whether or not it happens- “The move to make is/was Wieters.”

  • TexasGusCC

    I still like Rivera more than either one. Rivera controls the pitching staff and calls a good game. My only knock on Rivera is he can get a bit lazy shifting to the right to block balls. TDA doesn’t call a good game at all, and I can’t tell you about Plawecki. So, while Rivera may not be an offensive force, but if he keeps the ERA’s low, gives pitchers peace of mind for the running game instead of stressing and continuously throwing to first base and gets a clutch hit now and then out of the 8 spot, what more do you want?

    How many games are you expecting your #8 hitter to win for you anyway? But, with his defense, Rivera not only saves runs and thus games, but gives less stress to the pitcher and in return to the pitcher’s arm. I don’t understand how you have such valuable assets on the mound and you don’t give them the best help you can. As Whitey Herzog said of Ozzie Smith, “what difference does it make if he drives in 100 runs or saves 100 runs?”

    Watching one game with Brian last year, I called Rivera, Molina-lite. That’s high praise. Matt (above) just named Molina as one of the best catchers in baseball and we can’t consider starting a player that is like him but a bit less so?

  • Jimmy P

    You are making a huge leap elevating Rivera to Molina status. I don’t see the justification in it. He’s no Henry Blanco.

    And in terms of “calling a good game,” I’m always baffled when fans make these statements. How do you conclusively know in the context of the game plan, what the pitcher wants, the catcher, and so on?

    I find the defensive stats at the catcher position to be unconvincing, but I am content to say from my observations that Rivera is above-average, Plawecki is borderline to just below (I’ve never been too impressed), and d’Arnaud is below-average. I don’t personally see the big gap between Plawecki and d’Arnaud behind the plate, and I know who I’d rather see with a bat in his hands.

    Again, dead horse, so I’ll stop, but I think Travis needs to play regularly, say 70% of the time, and then the Mets will have to make a determination by July. The ideal result would be for him to hit with thump and marginally improve on defense. If that happens, then catcher becomes a competitive asset for the NY team. If he doesn’t hit, if he can’t stay healthy, then the Mets have to seek a more lasting solution.

    I believe he has the natural ability to be a Top 5 offensive catcher and I don’t walk away from that easily. Rivera is a dime a dozen and Plawecki is Vance Wilson.

    • Brian Joura

      Agree 100% about calling a good game.

      Fielders don’t position themselves and the battery doesn’t have anywhere near the control of the game plan as they did in the 70s.

      • NormE

        The thing we can’t answer is in the head of the guy on the mound. How do we measure the comfort level of each pitcher as he works with the guy squatting behind the plate? For some pitchers it might not matter much, but it’s possible that others might be affected to greater degrees.
        Does TDA’s framing ability factor into the pitcher’s head? Does Rivera’s stronger arm help the pitcher’s psyche? How about the ability of the battery mates to communicate positively with each other?
        Since there are at least 12 pitchers on the roster there may be 12 different answers.
        Of course all of the above would be relatively insignificant if the catcher could hit like Piazza.

  • MattyMets

    Hard to believe Wieters is still available. As much as I’m down on TDA, I just don’t think this guy, with his injury history, poor pitch framing and coming off a weak year at age 31 is a big enough upgrade to warrant the investment. Maybe he won’t get the 3/$50MM deal he was hoping for, but he’s not about to sign for 2/$10MM either.


    • TexasGusCC

      Undoubtedly, Scott Boras is the reason that he’s still available. Happened to Stephen Drew, Daryl Kile, and few other clients that suffered if Boras swung and missed.

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