Is it possible that New York Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud‘s true value to the organization lies in the trade market?
By Robby Sabo
Fortunately for the New York Mets, they don’t need Travis d’Arnaud in the lineup to win games.
Unfortunately for d’Arnaud, the Mets don’t have a status-quo veteran backup catcher like 90 percent of the baseball teams out there. Instead, they have Kevin Plawecki, a guy who was highly-touted coming through the system and has the ability to steal the starting job.
As Plawecki caught Matt Harvey‘s best start of the 2016 season on Wednesday night, a graphic flashed on SNY prompting all d’Arnaud fans to shutter.
Since the start of the 2015 season, the Mets team ERA is 3.77 in 78 games with d’Arnaud behind the plate. For Plawecki, Mets pitchers are a run better (2.77 ERA in 77 games).
This, folks, is not a small difference. It’s an alarming stat that adds on to an already startling reality that the New York Mets are better served with Kevin Plawecki as the regular catcher.
First off, let’s call a spade a spade. d’Arnaud struggles as a receiver. He’s simply not a good defensive catcher.
This means his bat better make up for those deficiencies, and for the most part, it does. d’Arnaud’s offensive ability is more than adequate. Actually, it’s superb for a catcher.
In 219 career MLB games d’Arnaud has collected 26 home runs and 88 runs batted in. While he’s only a career .244 hitter up to this point, the keen observer would agree he’s more of a .275 guy.
It’s obvious to see why the guy was such a highly-touted prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization before getting shipped to Toronto in the Roy Halladay deal. Offensively blessed catchers don’t grow on trees.
There’s just one gigantic problem: d’Arnaud never plays.
At 27-years of age, he’s only played in 219 games in four seasons (with 2013 not a complete one factoring in his initial midseason call-up). Still, 219 games in three seasons is a terrible showing.
He’s simply injury prone, and it happened to him again not even 20 games into the season. The man made of porcelain not only got off to a terrible start this season, he’s now hit the DL thanks to a rotator-cuff.
Thanks to his fragile ways, Sandy Alderson would be much better served shipping d’Arnaud out of town and going with Plawecki full time.
Trading d’Arnaud now, at age 27, before he starts to really pile up the injuries, is the best move.
Think back to October. Although the Kansas City Royals run on everybody, during this particular World Series the Royals were especially amped up to run. d’Arnaud didn’t have a shot to throw anybody out. After a while it became flat-out embarrassing.
Plawecki, on the other hand, seems to have control of the entire field. He carries around a field general persona.
How could this specific roster, which is so pitching heavy, not benefit more with the defensive catcher at the helm? And, to top it off, this lineup doesn’t need d’Arnaud’s bat anymore.
With Neil Walker smashing home runs seemingly every night and Yoenis Cespedes producing his regular power numbers, d’Arnaud’s valuable bat is becoming increasingly irrelevant every night Plawecki throws that catching gear on.
Even if Alderson doesn’t believe his club is at the point in which Plawecki is the better overall option, it’s slowly developing to that point. Every night d’Arnaud stays injured, we get one night closer to this conclusion.
Trade d’Arnaud now, before it’s too late.
Whatever Plawecki adds by way of offense will be considered a bonus. Trading d’Arnaud and handing the job to Plawecki will only improve upon the wonders of the Mets starting rotation – a stark contrast to what d’Arnaud does in hindering it.
If the man could stay healthy, it would be a different story. He just simply cannot stay on the field.
Durability is an attribute. Call it unlucky if you want. Call his injuries “freak” versions if you’d like. The bottom line is this: 219 games in three-plus seasons is horrendous. When fans need to start making excuses for injuries, is when fans need to realize a guy’s durability is a problem.