Mets GM Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said this winter that Travis d'Arnaud, Rene Rivera, and Kevin Plawecki will be his catchers in 2017. Meanwhile, it's Jan. 25, pitchers and catchers report in less than three weeks, and free-agent C Matt Wieters is still available on the open market.
In early-January, Mets sources told Daily News reporter John Harper that the team was not interested in spending money on a catcher, including Wieters.
However, in lieu of Tuesday night's news that Jay Bruce may be on the Opening Day roster (despite attempts to trade him all winter for a reliever), I expect fans and media will soon start contemplating signing Wieters, while trading d'Arnaud and prospects for the relief pitcher they hoped to get for Bruce.
Personally, I prefer d'Arnaud. I believe he can realize his potential, which he showed in 60 or so games during 2015. It's still possible -- catchers are notorious for developing late and he's still only 28 years old.
Wieters (32) does not get the throw in time at Ed Smith Stadium (Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)
That said, I understand why people will be attracted to Wieters, who is just two years older than d'Arnaud. Wieters is a four-time All-Star, he's won multiple Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards and -- more important -- he's looking for a job and flirting with the Nationals.
In addition to Washington, FanRag's Jon Heyman believes the Angels, Rockies, Reds, and Orioles are also a possible destination for Wieters, who reportedly started the winter looking for a four-year, $60 million deal. However, since none of the above teams appear desperate enough to commit long-term dollars to a catcher, MLB insiders believe Wieters and his agent, Scott Boras, are now willing to accept either a Cespedes-like opt-out contract or even just a one-year deal.
Wieters missed 40 percent of the last two seasons due to injury, during which he hit .253 with a .723 OPS, while striking out in 20 percent of his plate appearances. He combined for 2.7 WAR, according to FanGraphs, during the last two seasons (1.0 in 2015, 1.7 in 2016).
By comparison, d'Arnaud missed 60 percent of the last two seasons (either due to injury or demotions), during which he's hit .257 with a .718 OPS, while striking in 18 percent of his plate appearances. He combined for 2.4 WAR, according to FanGraphs, during the last two seasons (2.3 in 2015, 0.1 in 2016).
D'Arnaud (7) talks with Noah Syndergaard (34) at Kauffman Stadium. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Interestingly, d'Arnaud has actually been better and had more peaks in his production than Wieters during the last 24 months. D'Arnaud's April, June and August in 2015 were terrific. The thing is, Wieters was more consistent and has experienced far fewer valleys. Similarly, while Wieters has a better arm and is probably more adept at blocking balls in the dirt, d'Arnaud knows his pitching staff inside and out, he knows the National League East (Wieters has only ever played in the American League), and d'Arnaud is significantly better than him at framing pitches.
Again, I understand having interest in Wieters because of his track record and ability to switch hit, but I'd rather Alderson stick with d'Arnaud. I actually think Travis has more upside at this point, especially since neither of these two are a given to stay on the field all season. Wieters is really good, but Travis is younger, has been really good when healthy, he's grown up with the team's pitching staff, he's experienced the highs and lows of pennant-race baseball in New York, and he's earning just $1.875 million and under team control the next three seasons.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) has been the lead writer of MetsBlog.com since 2003, as well as Executive Editor and Director of Digital Content for SNY.TV and host of the MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Citi.