Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Getting an upgrade at catcher should be one of the main goals for the Mets this offseason, as new GM Brodie Van Wagenen looks to add to what he believes is a strong core -- with the aim being to win now.
Kevin Plawecki hit .210/.315/.370 with seven homers in 79 games in 2018 while playing average defense. That .370 slugging percentage put him in the middle of the pack for all catchers.
But while he may still have some room to grow, Plawecki profiles better as a backup, and will likely be in that role in 2019 with the team potentially non-tendering Travis d'Arnaud, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Mets don't have any answers at catcher in the upper levels of the minors, so -- if Plawecki isn't the starter -- they'll need to go outside the organization for their 2019 everyday catcher...
The case for J.T. Realmuto
Realmuto wants out of Miami (again), with his agent recently saying that he thinks Realmuto "will definitely be wearing a different uniform by the start of spring training."
Whether Derek Jeter and the Marlins will honor Realmuto's request is unknown. At the moment, though, they have an incredibly unhappy player who has a tremendous amount of value due to his production and affordablity.
The 27-year-old Realmuto is eligible for arbitration in 2019 and 2020, after which he can be a free agent. MLBTradeRumors projects Realmuto will make $6.1 million in 2019, which would be a ridiculous bargain for whoever he plays for.
Realmuto hit .277/.340/.484 with 21 homers in 125 games in 2018. Offensively, he has gotten better each of the last three seasons, with his OPS rising from .771 to .783 to .825. He was average in 2018 when it came to defensive runs saved behind the plate, and his caught stealing percentage (38 percent) was excellent and nearly in line with his career rate.
Whoever gets Realmuto (if the Marlins deal him) will be getting the best overall catcher in baseball, who is also under team control for two seasons at a team-friendly rate. But whoever gets him will need to give up a hell of a lot in exchange.
The Mets -- depending on the positional needs the Marlins might want to address -- have enough highly-thought-of minor league pieces to get a deal done. They also have more than enough major league pieces to do so if that's the kind of deal the Marlins are looking for. But with lots of other teams also in need of a catcher, would it be worth it to try to out-bid all of those teams?
The case for signing a free agent
Coming off an "October from Hell" where he was benched by the Dodgers for a second straight postseason, there aren't many people who are clamoring for Yasmani Grandal. But a look at his numbers shows a player who has plenty of value.
Grandal, who will turn 30 years old on Nov. 8, was worth 3.6 fWAR (second among all catchers in baseball, behind only Realmuto's 4.8) in 2018. He hit .241/.349/.466 with 24 homers in 140 games -- very close to his career line of .240/.341/.441. Behind the plate, where Jay Jaffe notes he is one of the best pitch-framers in baseball, Grandal was worth 9 DRS.
As far as what Grandal will get on the open market, Jon Heyman of FanCred predicts $20 million for two years, while an expert Heyman spoke to predicts $39 million for three years.
The other big name on the free agent market is 31-year-old Wilson Ramos, who hit .306/.358/.487 with 15 homers in 111 games in 2018 split between the Rays and Phillies and could reportedly sign early. His career line is .273/.317/.439, and three of his four best seasons in terms of slugging percentage have come the last three seasons.
Ramos was a bit below average this past season when it came to DRS behind the plate (-5), but had the best caught stealing percentage in the majors (44 percent).
As far as what Ramos will get on the open market, Heyman predicts he'll get $9 million for one year, with the expert predicting $10 million for one year.
What should the Mets do?
Realmuto is a tremendous talent who is right in the middle of his prime. He's also the most cost-effective option in terms of dollars. But trading for him would likely mean the Mets parting with two of their best prospects and more.
For the Mets -- whose farm system is improving but still needs lots of work -- is it really worth it to rip multiple meaningful pieces from the farm system to acquire Realmuto when very solid options are out there on the free agent market?
Yes, there are concerns with Grandal after his last two postseasons. But his career numbers put him in the upper echelon when it comes to catchers. And yes, there are concerns with Ramos, who was limited to just 64 games in 2017 after returning from a torn ACL, and played 78 games in 2018.
But the best bet for the Mets at this point is to sign Grandal or Ramos. The dropoff from Realmuto to one of them is sizable, but simply isn't great enough for the Mets to part with what it would take to get him.