After getting the call to the big leagues on Tuesday, Tomas Nido has a chance to earn a job in 2018. That’s not good for Travis d’Arnaud.The world is an unforgiving place. Eventually, if you fail to produce at your job, not even your reputation can carry you.
Such is the case with Tarvis d’Arnaud. Drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007, he was considered a supreme talent at the catching position, cracking Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list just two years later in 2009.
The hype surrounding his ability ultimately allowed the Phillies to acquire Roy Halladay, sending d’Arnaud and others to Toronto. Just two years later, he found himself ranked as the 23rd overall prospect in baseball and, again, the centerpiece of a trade for a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher—R.A. Dickey.
When the New York Mets acquired d’Arnaud, they were under the impression that they had acquired their catcher of the future. Unfortunately, injuries and ineffectiveness at the plate and mediocrity behind it have left his future in doubt.
Now that Kevin Plawecki has remembered how to hit, d’Arnaud has begun losing some playing time. The addition of Tomas Nido to the roster will only mean more time on the pine for the 28-year-old TdA.
General manager Sandy Alderson recently opened up about Plawecki’s ability to win a starting job in 2018, and his recent performance has backed Alderson’s confidence.
Kevin Plawecki, since being recalled on 8/19: .302/.362/.897, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB. Small, but encouraging sample size. #Mets
— Michael Baron (@michaelgbaron) September 10, 2017
As noted, this type of small sample size has to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is effective in displaying that d’Arnaud’s competition is on the rise.
And TdA’s other competitor for playing time next year is quite literally on the rise from Double-A Binghamton. Even though Nido has struggled at the plate in the minors this year, slashing just .232/.287/.354, he still represents raw offensive raw talent while excelling as a defender behind the dish.
In fact, his biggest weakness, throwing out runners, is one of Nido’s strengths. Nido’s pop time has been recorded at 1.8 seconds while d’Arnaud’s numbers in this category lag far behind.
To put Rivera's 1.9-second pop time in perspective, Travis d'Arnaud has averaged 2.2 this season and gone as slow as 3.0. Plawecki's at 2.1.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 7, 2016
Pop time is the recorded amount of time it takes for a catcher to get the ball to second base from the instant it hits his glove. Nido’s pop time is impressive, considering seven-time Gold Glove Award winner Yadier Molina has been clocked as low as 1.7 seconds.
Nido’s pop time has led to a 45 percent caught stealing rate this season. When d’Arnaud was in Double-A and 22 years old, he only managed to throw out 27 percent of base stealers.
As a blocker, Nido has only allowed six passed balls, adding to his defensive prowess. The only weak part of his defensive game is his game-calling ability, which has steadily improved with experience.
Nido has untapped raw power, just like d’Arnaud once did, but possesses a much more complete defensive game. That, paired with Plawecki’s success at the dish since his return could mean doom and gloom for TDA’s future in Flushing.
The reality is that d’Arnaud has been given numerous opportunities to seize the job and has failed thus far. He will entering his age-29 season in 2018 and has never played more than 108 games in a season.
If Plawecki and Nido show the Mets something in the next few weeks, d’Arnaud could easily find himself as the odd-man out in the catching trio. Under team control for two more years and unlikely to earn more than $4 million in arbitration, he could be appealing to a team in need of an experienced catcher in the offseason.