A Devin Mesoraco reunion scenario

The Mets have significantly upgraded their catching corps this offseason via the signing of Wilson Ramos. The backup catcher slot, however, is still up in the air. Conventional wisdom has been to either keep Travis d’Arnaud and trade Kevin Plawecki, or vice-versa. Yet another possibility is to keep both and occasionally deploy d’Arnaud in either a corner outfield/infield role. There is another possible catching plan that involves trading trading both d’Arnaud and Plawecki and signing FA Devin Mesoraco.

Mesoraco was obtained by the Mets by trading Matt Harvey to the Reds last year, a trade necessitated by the season-ending injury to d’Arnaud. In 66 games for the Mets Mesoraco posted a slash line of .222/.306/.409, accompanied by 10 homers. Not very impressive, but it was better than Plawecki’s .210/.315/.370 in 79 games.

In the past Mesoraco has been a pretty good defensive catcher, but his stats did fall off last season. His caught stealing rate was 21% in 2018, but of course several Mets pitchers are not good at holding runners on.

Looking at the season Mesoraco had for the Mets last year, he started off pretty well, then he hit a long bad patch, followed by an injury to his neck and back that sidelined him starting in late August. Mesoraco returned toward the end of September, and suddenly tore the cover off the ball. In the five games he played in September and October, his slash line was .455/.500/.909.

Now it could be that late season production was just a fluke in a small sample. It could mean, however, that the late season injury had bothered him for awhile and that he played through it, affecting his offense and defense adversely. The injury was reported to be neck and back stiffness, treated with rest and some shots.

No matter what Mesoraco is not going to duplicate anywhere near that late season line over a season, but if it was the injury that hindered him for much of the year, and if the medical regimen has improved it, then Mesoraco could be a very valuable backup catcher for some team. The Mets should have a good handle on his medical status from when he was on the team.

Mesoraco does have a good baseball pedigree in that he was a first round selection of the Reds in 2007. His best season was 2014, when he made the All-Star team. Mesoraco will turn 31 toward the mid part of next year, so he is no youngster. However, he will not command a big salary, and the Mets conceivably could sign him for a reasonable one or two year contract. That would then give them the chance to trade Plawecki and d’Arnaud, perhaps to pick up some additional bullpen help.

One other point to consider. During his time with the Mets last year, Mesoraco often caught Jacob deGrom. It was reported that deGrom likes his game calling and is comfortable with Mesoraco behind the plate. I’m sure most every Met fan, myself included, would think it would be a good thing for deGrom to be as comfortable as possible on the mound for the Mets.

15 comments for “A Devin Mesoraco reunion scenario

  1. January 1, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Click

  2. Bob S
    January 1, 2019 at 10:27 am

    I like the idea of Mesoraco possibly being healed and productive and being deGroms catcher then I do of d’Arnaud ever being healthy for s full season or Plawecki ever being able to hit.

    • Rae
      January 1, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      Mesoraco is one tuff catcher. I also appreciate that he religiously studied each and every Mets pitcher so he understood how to help them with each pitch he called. Devin has got bat power, and in a part time role for the Mets in 2019 where he can catch perhaps Matz and deGrom that would give Ramos two days off per week, and help him not become overworked. I think the better signing would be Juan Graterol as he throws out 40% of all runners so he is obviously a defensive minded catcher who will only hit around 220-to-225 but if he could catch and help guys like Syndergaard and Matz he would be a guy the Mets need to sign at least to a Triple AAA/Syracuse 2019 contract.

  3. Michael
    January 1, 2019 at 10:39 am

    I’d rather keep TDA as a backup catcher and reserve IF/OF. Last year he was coming off a 16 HR/ 57 RBI season of 112 games. His injury history has been frustrating but Mesoraco hasn’t been the picture of health either. Most games Mesoraco played in a season is 114 and only broke 100 one other time. When he first game over I thought we finally had a catcher for a long time but as the season passed, his lack of offense changed my mind.

  4. January 1, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve heard this idea floated elsewhere. If he accepts a Minor League contract with an invite to ST, I am all for it. He is a better option than either TdA or KP at this point.

  5. Merf
    January 1, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Personally, I believe Devin could do a better job for an American league team, where he could be a back-up catcher and a designated hitter (DH). I feel he could have two, three to four good years left before he retires. The number one question is, can he stay healthy, if so, it’s a no brainer., new team will have a experienced catcher and the ability to still hit the long ball.

  6. TexasGusCC
    January 1, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    John, happy new year. I’m sorry, but I will blow your plan up but here’s why:

    Mesoraco is leaving his prime years at 30 and his last good year was 2014 was five years ago, in Cincinnati. Last year his RC+ was 92 and in 2017 it was 87. In 2015 and 2016 he only had only just more than 50 PAs the RC+ was 46 and 2(!), respectively. Granted, catchers are the most oft-injured position player, but Mesoraco seems to have taken it to another level and I must wonder either his body type or maybe it’s a lack of mental discipline with regards to injuries.

    Meanwhile, Plawecki is 27 and his last two RC+ totals were 93 last year and 107 in 2017. In 2015 and 2016, although abismal at the plate, with triple and quintuple the at bats his RC+ was 59 both years. So, while Plawecki hasn’t “been everything we’ve ever dreamed of”, he’s trending up and he’s into his prime years. Even as merely a “Tyler Flowers” player, he has value in his production. Of the three catchers here, he’s the one I’d pick to backup Ramos.

    Lastly, I like the idea of TDA being a rover and maybe like Joe Mauer or Craig Biggio, getting him from behind the plate may help his durability and consistency.

    • John Fox
      January 1, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Happy New Year to you to Gus. Mesoraco had injury problems mainly in 2015 and 2016. He became the starting catcher for the Reds in 2013, and played 100 plus games that year and 2014. He then had the 2 years mostly lost to injuries, but for 2017 he was beaten out of the starting job by Tucker Barnhart. He did have the stiff neck/back last year but it looks like he has recovered from that and he could be a productive backup catcher in my opinion for a couple more years.

    • Metsense
      January 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      Plawecki is the most affordable, still has four years of Met control and he has been is the healthiest in the trio.In the past two years he statistically has beaten or held his own with the other two.
      The Mets should cut ties and pay TDA at his pro rated salary and put the money into another reliever (Robertson). Salary dump Vargas to the Astros and release TDA and thus pay Robertson’s first year’s salary.

      • TexasGusCC
        January 2, 2019 at 2:15 am

        You said it perfectly Metsense. If it was a one year deal, we can debate who we think can have a better year. But, the four years of Plawecki with similar-ish production, his entering his prime and trending upwards, gives him the nod, imho.

      • Chris F
        January 2, 2019 at 1:11 pm

        correct Metsense. Catcher is now done, except for trading TdA or KP if that is in the works. Ramos, TdA/KP, Nido is enough to get it done, and certainly Ramos, TdA, KP is enough. No need to make more a meal of C with the myriad of other gaps that still exist.

  7. Mike Walczak
    January 1, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Plawecki is an arbitration 1 for 2019. I don’t see the Mets dumping both catchers to sign Mesoraco as their backup. The Ramos deal put a nail in that.

  8. Eraff
    January 1, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Kevin Plawecki is a good piece of a Back Up Stable of Catchers—he’s young and cheap—and his recent stats demonstrate a 700’ish OPS. He enables you to “spend money elsewhere”.

    The logic that He sucks and has no value—therefore you should trade him…..????

    I’ve always liked Mez as well…hey…they’re Catchers—if they can give you a competitive ab and take the grind…..

    … I sometimes wonder whether there’s any acknowledgement of the spotty quality of MLB Catching

  9. Remember1969
    January 1, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    I guess my question would be why would any other team trade for TDA or KP if they could just sign Mesoraco? If he is the right option for the Mets, it seems like anybody else would have the same view?

    • John Fox
      January 1, 2019 at 8:02 pm

      That’s a good point Remember, although a few things are unique to the Mets such as familiarity of the Mets to him from last year and the comfort level of deGrom working with him.

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