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.

10 Replies to “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. metsdaddy says:

      Plawecki signing for under a million was inexcusable

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