Three Backup Catching Options Mets Should Pursue

According to reports, the New York Mets are currently looking to upgrade their bullpen and backup catcher situation. While Tomas Nido was a strong defensive catcher, he had just a 40 wRC+, which probably necessitates this search.

Ideally, whomever the Mets acquire can offer the Nido’s defensive abilities while also providing a better bat. Also, given the Mets shoestring budget, the player they acquire is likely going to have to be cheap. Here are five catchers who should meet those requirements:

Kevin Plawecki

The mention of Plawecki may not excite Mets fans who had grown exacerbated with his never quite fulfilling his offensive potential. Even with his offensive struggles in Cleveland, Plawecki’s 63 wRC+ was far better than Nido’s. If he reverts to the catcher who had a 10.8% walk rate and 96 OPS+ in his final three years with the Mets all the better.

Another factor with Plawecki is he has historically been a strong pitch framer. As noted by Baseball Savant, Plawecki was a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That is of no small significance with a pitching staff which includes Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia, and Edwin Diaz.

Of note with Syndergaard, who had his issues with Wilson Ramos, his 5.33 K/BB with Plawecki behind the plate is the best mark he has had with any catcher not named Rene Rivera.

Russell Martin

On the topic of the Mets pitchers who need the low strike to succeed, there was a Grantland article which described Martin’s strong framing, which included his exceptional work on the lower half of the zone. While he is not the same framer he was in his prime, he is still one of the better framers in the lower part of the zone getting a called strike a little over 50% of the time.

In addition to framing the low strike, Martin had a strong offensive season for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. However, it should be noted that was part of a three year drop off offensively, and he is 36 years old. Still, Martin is a respected veteran presence, and that should not be underestimated.

If the Mets do change course and go with the personal catcher route, it would be much more palatable to Ramos and the clubhouse for the Mets to defer to a catcher of Martin’s stature than it probably was with Nido last year. Overall, this should help the clubhouse and the pitching staff. Speaking of saving the pitching staff, Martin can be relied upon as a reliever in blow out games.

Jason Castro

With the Mets hiring Jeremy Hefner as the pitching coach, the organization is looking for an advanced analytical approach to help bring the pitching staff to bring them to the next level. This requires the implementation of a new organizational philosophy across the board. That process could be helped along by the Mets bringing in Castro, who worked with Hefner in Minnesota.

In addition to his knowledge of what Hefner is looking to do, Castro is a strong framer, and like aforementioned catchers, he is strong in the lower parts of the zone. He is also exceptional at getting the corners. Unlike the aforementioned catchers, he was an above average league hitter with a 103 wRC+.

On that note, it was the highest mark he had in six years, and it was just the second time in the past decade he was an above-average league hitter. Of course, some of the impact to that is the ball which was much maligned last year. Despite that, Castro is still a good hitter for the position with strong framing metrics.

Looking beyond these three, it is difficult to find a catcher who would fulfill the criteria of being a better hitter than Nido as well as a strong framer, especially in the lower half of the zone. The framing in the lower half of the zone really needs to be a focus for this Mets team given their pitchers and in their attempts to find a complement to Ramos.

Other popular names like Martin Maldonado may not come as cheap, and others like a Francisco Cervelli do not have the lower half framing numbers you want. Those three catchers should be the overall upgrade at a cheap cost over Nido, who the Mets may very well lose as he is out of options.


16 Replies to “Three Backup Catching Options Mets Should Pursue”

  1. Rich Hausig says:

    I know you guys love the framing, I think we need the best possible all-around defensive guy and that means he needs to be be able to throw out base-stealers (35%+) and communicate with the staff and the infield. With this lineup we should be able to carry a dead bat for 40-50 games if he can those things.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      People not only vastly overrate a catcher’s ability to throw out base runners, and they pin it too much on the catcher.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    A much more interesting issue than many put forward on sny’s metsblog.

    It’s a tough call, but Plaw strikes me as the slightly better bet (in the context of backup catchers) just based on age.
    With Martin at 37 and Castro at 33, the risk is significant that you’re signing either for his last and (if he just can’t cut it due to baseball old age) probably catastrophic season in the majors. At the same time, both were better than Plawecki last year.

    It would take some real digging to figure whether Plawecki is likely to return to his modest but useful 2017-2018 performance level. Then there’s the problem of, why did the Indians drop Plaw? A guy with his track record, even with his replacement level 2019 season, should be worth a little something in the event of a bounce back, especially with 3 controllable years remaining, and especially with the trivial $ he rated to get in his first arb year coming off a poor season. If he was going to make $1.6m in arb and the Indians weren’t going to keep him, is he really so unpromising that they couldn’t deal him for salary? If that’s the case, that’s worrisome.

    After a few minutes thought, of the three I think you go with Castro. Has the most recent good-hitting season, and as a part-timer he might add a win when the Mets are desperate to find a win or half-win anywhere they can. Even if more things go right than wrong, they’ll be on the fringes of the postseason, so they’ll need to squeeze the roster for everything they can.

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