Fans of the New York Mets are forever prepared for the next big injury. Injuries derailed a promising 2017 season, will 2018 end in the same way? Fans will continue to hold their breath with every hit by pitch, awkward stop, and long pitched inning.
One on hand, the has club seemed more prepared to withstand injuries in 2018. Brandon Nimmo played great in Michael Conforto’s short absence, Jason Vargas’ broken hand has been an afterthought with Zack Wheeler’s return, and Kevin Plawecki was available to fill in after Travis d’Arnaud was placed on the disabled list with a partially torn UCL. The catching situation became complicated after Kevin Plawecki broke his hand a few days later.
Yes, you read that right. The New York Mets are without their starting and backup catchers for the foreseeable future. We could write a book about things that could only happen to the New York Mets. The team is currently relying on veteran Jose Lobaton and youngster Tomas Nido to handle the everyday catching responsibilities. While both of these options are fine in the short term, should we be worried about them being long-term placeholders?
Sandy Alderson does not like this idea. Last week in a comment regarding the situation, Alderson said that he is only comfortable with the team’s current catching situation in the short term. Is this a hint towards a potential move? At this point in time, it is reasonable to assume that there will not be a move made. Kevin Plawecki was originally slated to miss three-four weeks, he should be set to return in the middle of May. If a move is made, this will signal that they are uncomfortable moving forward with Plawecki as their starting catcher. If this is the case, let’s take a look at some possible acquisitions.
Jose Lobaton/ Tomas Nido
Staying put would be the simplest option for Sandy Alderson and Co. Overall, Lobaton and Nido are very similar players. Being a longtime Washington National, Lobaton seemed to have his best offensive showings against the Mets. In the end, he is a career .217 hitter. For a majority of his career, Lobaton has mostly been seen as a defensive wiz. The same goes for Nido. Though the youngster has shown an ability to hit in the lower levels, that part of his game has yet to develop enough to succeed in the Major Leagues. He has found himself on the Major League roster because of his ability to handle pitchers.
Before Plawecki’s injury, the Mets definitely needed help on the defensive side. Have these two catchers made a difference? That is very arguable. Mets’ catchers had yet to throw out a potential baserunner before Plawecki’s injury, they are now 0-19. In my head, it is hard to justify having two light hitting catchers on the roster if they are not helping in other areas.
The possible acquisition of Realmuto has been a hot rumor in recent news. J.T would definitely make the biggest overall difference to the club. The team had reportedly been very interested in the talented catcher this offseason. Realmuto hit 17 home runs and had a batting line of .278/.332/.451 in 141 games in 2017.
Given the packages that the Marlins received for Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna, the idea of finding the right mix of minor leaguers to entice Miami does not seem too far-fetched. I’ve read articles saying that the Mets will probably have to swap either Amed Rosario or Michael Conforto in order to acquire Realmuto. The Marlins are in a deep re-build, they are looking to acquire talent. I do not think that they will be looking for a “Conforto” sized return for Realmuto.
A possible trade scenario could be SS Andres Gimenez, their top prospect, and RHP Justin Dunn. Gimenez is 19 years old and has exhibited an advanced approach at the plate. He projects to be a plus hitter. Justin Dunn is an athletic 22-year-old starter with good stuff. These are two prospects that the Mets can theoretically live without, especially when J.T. Realmuto will be able to help the Mets in the long term.
Lucroy has been connected to the Mets for a number of years. He is known for his defensive and framing abilities and has hit in the past. Though his offensive abilities have regressed, Lucroy still hit six home runs and drove in 40 runs in 123 games in 2017. After free agency did not go his way this winter, his one year and $6.5 million contract will be very appealing to clubs like the Mets.
The only problem is that he plays for Oakland, they are not going to be selling off players until the trade deadline. They are not “contenders” but definitely will be good enough to make an impact in the American League West. The Mets will probably have to overpay for Lucroy if they are looking to make a move within the next few weeks.
There are various other avenues where the Mets could look to plug their hole at catcher. They could contact the Red Sox to see if they can acquire Blake Swihart or even the Tampa Bay Rays for Wilson Ramos. Those options are doable, but in my mind, the team will either stay put or make a push for Realmuto or Lucroy. Those players will make the biggest impact for the New York Mets.