Willson Contreras Bad Fit For Mets
When you look at the New York Mets, the obvious area to address for offense is catcher. After all, Tomas Nido has a 47 wRC+, and Patrick Mazeika has a 39. That’s just indefensibly bad offensive production.
Now, this is the obvious spot where we say the Mets should call-up Francisco Alvarez. With Alvarez hitting a double and grand slam in consecutive games, we are not at that point yet. After all, he is hitting .125/.318/.281 over 10 games. You can argue that will probably translate better than what they are getting now, but with Alvarez, it is more than just what he can give you now.
Surveying the trade market, it would seem Willson Contreras and his career best 140 wRC+ would be a perfect fit. In actuality, this would be a mistake for the Mets.
Ultimately, this is a team built on its pitching. A large part of that has been the work Nido has done behind the plate.
Nido has been a terrific framer. In fact, as per Baseball Savant, he is tied as for 14th best among framers. He’s a good week from moving up to the top 10. While he doesn’t rate nearly as high, he does have impressive pop times. He is a defensive wizard back there, and he’s helping the Mets pitching staff.
This season, the Mets staff have the sixth best ERA (3.60) and FIP (3.65) and the best K/9 (9.65). They’re also walking few batters with their 2.86 BB/9 ranking seventh. The pitching staff is dominant, and more than anything else, that is why the Mets are in first place.
Look at it another way, this team cannot hit their way out of a paper bag right now. Still, they’re 9-7 over their last 16. The biggest reason is the pitching. Since Max Scherzer has come all the IL, the starting rotation has a 1.70 ERA, which is easily the best in the majors. This right here is the Mets strength, and it’s going to be more of a strength when Jacob deGrom returns from the IL.
This is also before you see Edwin Diaz is finally comfortable and dominating. He’s easily the best closer in baseball right now.
Contreras would only serve to diminish that.
Contreras has one of the worst called strike rates in the majors. Sure, part of that could be the Chicago Cubs pitching staff, and overall, Contreras has good framing numbers. However, as noted by the strike rate, that is deceiving. Maybe things will be better with the Mets, maybe not. Given what’s at stake, it’s too big of a risk to take.
If Contreras doesn’t jive with the Mets pitchers, that’s it. This team’s strength has taken a massive hit. Now, you have another Wilson Ramos situation where you’re just relying on him to hit. That’s a dicey proposition.
For his career, Contreras is a 127 wRC+ at Wrigley and a 108 on the road. That’s carried into this year where he is a 150 wRC+ at home and a 127 on the road. Again, he is far better at home, and an important note here, while it’s only a 15 game sample size, he hits .180/.263/.260 at Citi Field.
Ultimately, even if Ramos is at his career worst at the plate, he’s a significant upgrade over what the Mets already have offensively. However, catcher is a defensive position above all else. It is about the roughly 40 plate appearances you are behind the plate over the four you get yourself. Looking at it that way, what Nido is doing is far more valuable.
The Mets can improve their offense by addressing other areas. Even with Daniel Vogelbach, they can improve at DH. They can improve at third and left. Maybe if Alvarez is ready, they can improve there. What they can’t do right now is gamble on Contreras. That is a move that can hurt them more than it can help them.