When the Mets traded R.A Dickey on December 17, 2012, the centerpiece in that deal for the Mets was supposed to be catcher Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud, now having four professional seasons under his belt, finds himself at a professional crossroads. In terms of hitting for power, d’Arnaud has his best season. In 2017, he produced his highest home run total(16), and his highest RBI total(57). While those numbers are an improvement on what we have seen from him, his batting average came in at an abysmal .244. When will he turn turn the corner?
Before being called up d’Arnaud was expected to be “A complete catching prospect” and had “a knack for hard contact that should allow him to hit at least .280 in the big leagues once he settles in” according to Baseball Prospectus.
While d’Arnaud may slowly be improving, his health has always been an issue. Every season, d’Arnaud has found himself with at least one stint on the disabled list, which has made the Mets thin at the catching position. With the combination of injuries and impotencies at the plate, he may be feeling some pressure over his shoulders. On one shoulder is his backup, Kevin Plawecki. On the other is the top catching prospect of the Mets, Tomas Nido.
2017 was a season of growth for Plawecki. In 37 games, Plawecki hit at a .260 clip with three home runs. When it came to replacing d’Arnaud in times of injury, no one did it better than Plawecki. Has Plawecki improved as a player? All of his statistics improved last season, and he is around the same level of proficiency behind the plate as d’Arnaud. Both players are around the same age, so if you were to replace d’Arnaud with Plawecki, not much would happen. There is a bigger threat looming in the pipeline for d’Arnaud, however.
At age 23, things couldn’t be looking brighter for top Mets catching prospect Nido. While his numbers may not dazzle(a .232 average in 102 games at Double-A), he still earned a call-up to the big league team in September. There, he collected three hits in ten at-bats. This of course came after he went 2-2 in the All-Star futures game. In other words, the future is bright for Nido. While he is not ready to become a regular big league catcher, he is certainly well on his way. He is a long-term threat to d’Arnaud’s spot on the team, especially if he continues to improve his offensive game.
Born in Puerto Rico, the catcher raised in Florida was originally drafted for his defensive prowess. His stock will only continue to grow in the Mets minor league system. While his stock is growing, the stock of d’Arnaud has seemed to hit a continuous line where no growth seems apparent. This is an issue for d’Arnaud, as the two catchers behind him have gotten better, while he has stayed the same. It was nice to see d’Arnaud have a relatively successful season, but it may have been too late to save his future with the Mets.