After speculation that Travis d’Arnaud might be replaced this offseason, the New York Mets have made it clear that he’ll be the guy in 2017.
The word “if” has been applied to thousands of Major League Baseball players who have flashed potential at a young age. This is no different for New York Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who enters 2017 with a great deal to prove.
Potential has been the phrase so often associated with the former first round draft pick, and “if” he can maintain good health and perform the way his club knows he’s capable of, the Mets won’t have a catching issue in the near future.
It’s no secret that d’Arnaud has not lived up to the hype since his acquisition from Toronto several years ago. After a strong showing in the second half of 2015, injuries and inconsistency have seriously limited the now 28 year old catcher. The Mets are a team with a win-now mentality, and patience for a once heralded prospect was seemingly growing thin earlier this offseason.
Significant speculation resulted in questions being asked if d’Arnaud was meant to be the primary catcher for the blue and orange in 2017. However, after Matt Wieters signed with the rival Washington Nationals, all signs point to d’Arnaud getting another opportunity to showcase his talent over a full season.
The faith the Mets are showing in their young catcher hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. He spoke with MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo about his situation after the Wieters signing, “For them to back me up like that means a lot. I definitely worked harder to prove them right, to show them that I do care about it. I want to be here, to help this team get to the World Series and win it all.”
Catchers often take time to develop, but the 28 year old d’Arnaud is not going to be treated like a rookie anymore. Not only does he know the importance of the coming season, but his manager understands the significance of his catcher’s progression, “When you talk to Travis, you say, ’Hey look, when you first came here, everybody talked about potential, potential. We’ve seen it in action, so we know it’s in there. We’ve just got to get it back out,” Collins mentioned to DiComo last week.
Last Friday, d”Arnaud collected a pair of hits and played the field in his first Spring Training game. He’s healthy, determined and knows how vital this year is not only for his team with championship aspirations, but for his own long term sustainability.
He entered his first year of arbitration eligibility this winter and becomes and unrestricted free agent in 2020. Given his comments and perceived determination to prove himself, d’Arnaud seems dead set on proving his employer correct to keep faith in him.
He’s still yet to play a full season, make an all-star team or win a silver slugger. The 2017 season is very much a sink or swim season for d’Arnaud, but as the calendar prepares to turn to March, he’s said and done what you would want from a player with much to prove.