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Apparently Mets Backup Catcher No Longer A Concern

As the Mets embarked on the offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen specifically said the Mets were looking to upgrade over Tomas Nido as a backup catching option. Given Wilson Ramos‘ durability concerns, Nido’s 40 wRC+, and pitchers like Noah Syndergaard pushing for a personal catcher, you could understand Van Wagenen’s position.

However, as it stands today, the Mets appear as if they are going to go into the 2020 season with Nido returning as the backup catcher.

Now, there are some reasons for that. Players who could have fit that mold like Robinson Chirinos and Jason Castro got starting jobs elsewhere, and they essentially signed for starter money. While we can have a debate as to the merits of not upgrading over Ramos, the fact is if the Mets wanted a pure backup, these players ultimately were not going to fit the mold.

Still looking past that, there were plenty of players who fit exactly what the Mets wanted, and yet the team didn’t strike. There was Francisco Cervelli, who signed a cheap deal with the Marlins. Worse yet, there was Kevin Plawecki who signed for under $1 million. More than any other player, Plawecki was the fit due to framing ability, familiarity with the pitching staff, and cost.

Now, when you look at the free agent market, there isn’t much left. At this point in his career, Jonathan Lucroy appears near done as a Major League caliber player. John Ryan Murphy never panned out to be the catcher some thought he might be. Really, when you parse through it all, there remains one viable option on the market – Russell Martin.

According to Baseball Savant, Martin is a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That should help Syndergaard and pitchers like Rick Porcello and Marcus Stroman. On that point, Martin actually caught Stroman.

He also had a decent season at the plate for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. Moreover, he is seen as a leader in the clubhouse, and he has already shown an ability to handle New York during his time with the Yankees. When looking at him, he makes a lot of sense for the Mets.

Of course, the Mets would still have to be interested in addressing one of the primary needs they laid out as the offseason opened. On that front, Van Wagenen has walked back those remarks a bit to indicate he is now comfortable with Nido and Ali Sanchez in Triple-A as his catching depth. You could see his point if he was addressing other areas of the team, but he isn’t.

Ultimately, the Mets are going to need an upgrade from their backup catcher. Based upon his career and 2019 season Martin is that guy. In fact, based on the market, he’s really the only guy remaining. If not him, the Mets are going to have to just hope Nido makes significant strides forward in 2020 while receiving very limited playing time.

16 thoughts on “Apparently Mets Backup Catcher No Longer A Concern”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Yikes. Nido is significantly below replacement level for his career. He couldn’t even muster a .300 OBP in double A, while Ali Sanchez barely hit in his half season at AA, and he only has about 100 PAs in AAA and the AFL.

    When a guy like Plawecki is going for under 1m, you can’t run a team like this. You can’t bet 4-5 wins that your old catcher won’t get hurt by having nothing behind him. You can’t put yourself in a position where you might as well play the old guy into the ground because his backups are so bad or inexperienced.

    The Mets got away with playing Ramos in 141 games in 2019. You can bet they’re going to try that nonsense again.

    —Wilson Ramos getting hurt early in the season could well be more costly than losing Syndergaard or Stroman. He’s not as good a catcher as they are pitchers, or course, but the dropoff from him to his replacements over a season are probably greater than the dropoff from them to Wacha over a season. That’s serious mismanagement.

    1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      By the way, MD, have you ever gotten the sense that the Mets FO had come to dislike Plaw?

      It just seems odd that they dumped a decent backup like him coming off two respectable seasons for pocket change, then despite their problems at the position last year and his very low price, they didn’t go pick him up and solidify their catching.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        I think it’s part of their spite towards Sandy

      2. Oldbackstop says:

        Martin was catching the best staff in the NL in the Dodgers, lowest ERA, as to your Fake News framing stat. As much as I loath the stat, I looked back a few years….he is all over the place in the rankings. On the low strike last year, which you cited as critical for the Mets, he was ranked 18.

        He also threw out a pathetic 18 percent on steals, which is a real stat. Over the past four years he has been in the high teens in CS%….Ramos has been at least ten points higher, slightly above league average. Martin used to have a good arm. It looks dead now.

        Martin’s dWARs the last four years are basically the same as Ramos, slightly positive. His overall WAR for the last four years totals 2.7 — Ramos had 2.0 just last year alone.

        Last year Ramos led qualifying catchers in batting average, was second in hits, third in games played.

        Martin is washed up. His offensive numbers are in the Nido range…the only difference is Nido may improve, and Martin will further disintegrate.

        You just don’t see many 37 year old catchers who have played 15 years. The body breaks down.

        Again, Martin’s total slashes the past three years:

        .211/.340/.350/.690.

        That is a guy that should have been selling insurance two years ago.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Let me know when you get to a 2020 understanding of the game of baseball because a lot has changed since the 19802

    2. metsdaddy says:

      Plawecki signing for under a million was inexcusable

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Plawecki has a .218 career batting average. List me the signings you excuse.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It’s in the article

  2. Oldbackstop says:

    I’m sure we will add someone. It seems to be a recurring theme with you that the Mets have given up on certain pieces if they haven’t issued a public charitable plea to all of MLB. It is poor form to deal from a position of weakness, worse, it lower the odds of finding a satisfactory deal.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      There aren’t pieces remaining.

    2. Oldbackstop says:

      Rene Rivera? Looks like he is an FA.

      Your posting on this subject seems to waver from upgrading Ramos to getting a backup to buying a co -starter.

      First off, the Mets are paying Ramos 10 mil and have an option for 2021. Last year he delivered a +2.5 oWAR (and a +.2 dWAR). Ramos does not play first. Last year he appeared in 141 games…..way too many. But his bat is going to be in the lineup as much as possible. How much money are you going to commit to a new catcher who will be playing 30 ish games unless Ramos is hurt?

      And if Ramos is hurt….if you lose your 2018 All Star catcher who actually had a positive dWAR and oWAR last year….yeah, that is hard to replace. It would be hard for practically any team. If Ramos goes down, Nido can hold the fort behind the plate while we shop.

      As far as Martin….he is old as dick. Didn’t you say age denigrates framing skills ala Lucroy?

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Rivera isn’t a viable option, and I’ll note Martin remains a viable candidate.

        As for Ramos, no, he’s not that good.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    Russell Martin is entering his Age 37, 15th MLB season squatting.

    Here are his slashes the last three years:

    .211/.340/.350/.690

    In 2018 he was benched down the stretch by the Blue Jay’s, hitting .194.

    Were Ramos to go down, Martin has not appeared in more than 90 games in three years, and some of those were at third base.

    He also is said to be looking at 2 years/$10 mil, chipping deep into the small wallet we have left.

    Martin is done. Nothing worse than an Old Backstop.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Martin was not done last year as evidenced by his framing and wRC+.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Martin is 37 and has batted .211 over the past three years, during which he has thrown out about 18 percent of stealing runners.. His future is a downhill ski slope. Anyone that gives him ten million into Age 39 is a world class sucker.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Well, in addition to noting no one said Martin should get $10 million, I’d note BVW took on Cano’s onerous contract

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