With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., by Feb. 12, it's time to dissect the Mets' 2018 roster. This is the third of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backups heading into the season. Next up: catchers.NEW
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., by Feb. 12, it's time to dissect the Mets' 2018 roster. This is the third of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backups heading into the season. Next up: catchers.
NEW YORK -- One of Terry Collins' favored sayings is to be wary of stat lines in March and September. Spring Training evaluations mean little, in the former Mets manager's estimation. Likewise for September statistics, given the context of expanded rosters and out-of-contention competition.
Yet one of Collins' successful September experiments will spill over into Mickey Callaway's tenure this season. The Mets once again plan to split time relatively evenly at catcher between Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, each of whom thrived in a timeshare down the stretch last year.
"It seemed to work pretty well at the end of last season," Plawecki said last month. "We'll see how things go moving forward, but I think it can work. It can sustain us, keeping us both fresh."
The nominal starter, d'Arnaud should still play more often than not behind the plate, though the Mets will monitor the injury-prone catcher closely to ensure he stays on the field. In a career-high 112 games last season, d'Arnaud hit .244 with 16 home runs and a .735 OPS. Once d'Arnaud began splitting time with Plawecki in August, his slash line improved to .297/.350/.571 over his final 30 games.
Plawecki, meanwhile, returned from the Minors to bat .303/.411/.474 in 27 games, prompting general manager Sandy Alderson to say he could still "work toward the possibility of being an everyday guy." If nothing else, the late-season performances of both players gave the Mets reason to avoid seeking catching help on the open market this winter, despite the lingering presence of free agent Jonathan Lucroy. New York's only signing, Jose Lobaton, came on a Minor League deal.
"We feel pretty good about those two," Alderson said of d'Arnaud and Plawecki. "The other thing you have to do, of course, is evaluate what other options exist. At that position, I think it would be difficult for us to find a pair that we like appreciably better. I think we've been generally happy with our catching play."
It helps that d'Arnaud and Plawecki are good friends off the field, diffusing what could otherwise be an awkward situation. Plawecki was a groomsman in d'Arnaud's wedding earlier this offseason. Each genuinely roots for the other.
Beyond those two, the Mets acquired a bit of catching depth when they signed Lobaton, formerly of the Nationals, in September. Although Lobaton will ostensibly compete for a big league job this spring, the fact that he is not on the 40-man roster will make it extremely difficult for him to earn a spot.
Instead, Lobaton will likely head to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he can serve as a mentor to Tomas Nido. The Mets' No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Nido appeared in the Futures Game last July and made a brief big league cameo in September. Entering his age-24 season, Nido has a chance to earn significant playing time if he can rebound from what was a down year offensively in the Minors.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.