Mets Should Consider Moving d’Arnaud To The Infield
On August 16, 2017, we got to see Travis d’Arnaud bounce back-and-forth between second and third base. Twenty-three times in total.
The reason for the switching was because Terry Collins wanted to have Asdrubal Cabrera play on the pull side of the Yankee batters. d’Arnaud was in the field in the first place because (surprise, surprise), the Mets were playing short. With Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores unable to play the infield, d’Arnaud had to play there. On the evening, d’Arnaud would have just one ball hit in his direction. d’Arnaud would cleanly field that ninth inning pop up off the bat of Todd Frazier forever giving him the highest fielding percentage for a Mets second baseman.
Fast forward a few months, and the Mets are in the same exact situation they were just months ago. The team needs to fill in spots at second and third, and really, Cabrera is the only player they have capable on handling those positions everyday.
But it’s more than that. The Mets are currently not satisfied with Dominic Smith at first base, and they want competition for him. At a minimum, they’d like a platoon partner for him there as Smith has historically struggled with left-handed pitching.
Historically, this is where you would point to Flores being a solution for second, third, and/or first. However, Flores has also shown himself not in position to be that player. He cannot handle third base defensively. The Mets won’t let him handle second. And the overriding problem is he’s still a platoon bat even with him making strides against right-handed pitching.
Looking back at that August night, it may be worth toying with the idea of bringing d’Arnaud out from behind the plate to learn either second or third base – preferably third.
First and foremost, the roster composition would allow such a move. At the end of last season, Kevin Plawecki showed he may finally be ready to push for a starting catching job in the majors. Also, the Mets signed Jose Lobaton to a minor league deal. In his career, Lobaton has showed himself to be a more than capable backup catcher.
That tandem not only allows the Mets to handle the inevitable d’Arnaud injury, but it also allows the team to move d’Arnaud.
Presumably, third base would allow d’Arnaud to stay healthy. As we have long seen, d’Arnaud has been an injury prone player. By moving him to another position, you may be able to keep his bat in the lineup.
His bat is where things get a bit dicey. If d’Arnaud is the player he was in 2016 or 2017, you don’t want that bat in the lineup. It may be possible at catcher, but it’s not at third.
However, in 2015, he was a 126 OPS+ and 130 wRC+ hitter. That will play at any position. Keep in mind, when he was drafted, and when he was twice moved for Cy Young Award winners (Roy Halladay and R.A. Dickey) this is what he was expected to be as a hitter.
Getting d’Arnaud’s bat into the lineup everyday and giving Plawecki a shot to be the everyday catcher may go a long way towards helping the 2018 Mets get the most out of the talent on their roster.
Now, this understandably seems ridiculous, and you know what? It is. It is absolutely ridiculous we need to even contemplate d’Arnaud switching positions because of the failures of this team.
Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart both chose to become Angels. Rumors persist the Indians are not looking to move Jason Kipnis, at least not to the Mets. Josh Harrison was linked to the Yankees, not the Mets, in trade rumors. The team has a limited budget, so we can probably forget Frazier, Mike Moustakas, or even a Howie Kendrick.
The Mets don’t have the money, and they don’t have the prospects to get things done. With that in mind, you might as well contemplate moving d’Arnaud to the infield because . . . well . . . the Mets don’t really have any better options.