Mets GM Sandy Alderson is happy with how Travis d'Arnaud is progressing in his career, despite reports last week that the team was recently in contact with free-agent C Jonathan Lucroy.
"I couldn't be happier with Travis' progress,'' Alderson said in an e-mail to Newsday's Steve Marcus. "Last year he had a career high in home runs, RBIs and games played. Glenn Sherlock has helped him tremendously with his footwork behind the plate. I look for him to continue to make progress in all these areas again in 2018.''
In what was his fifth season, D'Arnaud, 28, hit .244 with 35 extra base hits last year. However, during the team's final 32 games, he batted .293 with a .343 OBP, six HR, eight doubles and 20 RBI.
I have zero issue with d'Arnaud's offensive production. He was a tad unlucky last season. In 2015, he had more balls drop in for hits, which is probably why he had a .268 average compared to last year's .244. Not surprisingly, the same can be said about his hot end to last season when he hit above .290. Regardless, he gets plenty of extra base hits, and is seemingly a lock for between 10-20 home runs.
The problem is that again and again he keeps missing large chunks of time due to injury. In five seasons since being promoted in 2013, he has yet to play more than 112 games in a season.
It's a killer for him, because -- if he could play 130-140 games -- he'd end up with a similar production to Yadier Molina or Yasmani Grandal.
"I can't really change the past," d'Arnaud told Marcus. "I've just got to keep working and trying to stay on the field longer and longer every year."
For the Mets, it comes down to what they can count on him to do. According to projections from FanGraphs, d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki can likely combine for 2.3 WAR across 160 games next season, which is exactly what they project for Lucroy. However, they put that number for Lucroy when playing just 99 games. This is exactly the issue facing the Mets...
I'm sure if they had a crystal ball and knew d'Arnaud would play a full, injury-free season, the Mets would hang up with Lucroy, and be totally content going in to camp with Travis and Plawecki. But, they don't have a crystal ball. The only safe bet is that someone will get hurt at some point.
MLB insiders had been predicting Lucroy would eventually sign a two-year deal with the Rockies, likely paying him around $10-12 million each season. At this point, I have no strong sense of what his market is, outside of these few scattered reports. That said, he's well worth $10-12 million if he hits .265 with a .340 OBP and 30 extra base hits, which is more or less what is predicted for d'Arnaud.
The big difference, though, is that he's far more likely to play 130 games, and he's still less than two years removed from being an elite offensive catcher. And he's still only 31 years old.
Lucroy spent nearly a decade in Milwaukee before playing for two different teams, and likely being underwhelmed by free agency. I'm sure he's desperate for some stability, and to have an organization put their full belief behind him.
I bet if the Mets offered Lucroy a lower annual salary, but for three seasons, he'd take it. I have no idea what happens to d'Arnaud, who is likely due $3.5 million next season. And I'm sure Alderson could better spend his limited resources at a position he is more thin at than catcher.
However, acquiring Lucroy could mean being able to trade d'Arnaud. I don't know the best answer. But, given d'Arnaud's history of injuries, I understand being tempted by Lucroy...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...