The New York Mets are in need of a catcher, and Blake Swihart, the odd man out in Boston, could be the answer.
The New York Mets have had terrible luck at the catcher position, with both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki out with an injury. d’Arnaud is out for the season and has a notable injury history, while Plawecki has yet to establish himself as the catcher of the future.
I suggested during the offseason that the Mets should pursue J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins, and while he would still be an ideal addition, ESNY’s Rick Weiner breaks down why making a trade for a player of his talent level from within the division is highly unlikely.
While the Mets did acquire Devin Mesoraco for Matt Harvey, he’s already 30 and is in his final season before free agency, making it likely that he won’t be the answer at catcher. However, 26-year-old Blake Swihart’s agent has requested that the team trade his client, according to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports, and he could be the answer.
Swihart has struggled to find playing time during the last three seasons. However, he has had moderate success when he’s played. He’s slashed .260/.321/.367 in his 124 career games (entering play on May 17), which is an improvement over d’Arnaud in batting average (.245) and OBP (.306). It’s also an improvement over Plawecki’s career slash of .219/.309/.305.
He was a highly touted prospect not too long ago, as both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus ranked him as their 17th prospect, and Major League Baseball ranked him as their 18th prospect entering 2015.
His only season with significant action came in 2015, where he played 84 games and slashed .274/.319/.392. Since then he has only appeared in 40 games and has struggled to get into a rhythm, slashing just .219/.327/.292, although those numbers could be expected to increase with more regular playing time.
At age 26, Swihart is younger than both the 27-year-old Plawecki, and the 30-year-old d’Arnaud. He has limited experience in the outfield and at first base, but is most comfortable and effective when catching.
Swihart is currently the Red Sox’ third catcher, behind Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez. With the modern MLB’s reliance on shorter benches and deeper bullpens, carrying a third catcher is difficult to do.
Additionally, Swihart is out of minor league options, and with Dustin Pedroia nearing a return from injury, the Red Sox face a roster crunch. They could be persuaded to let him go for below value rather than have to waive him and lose him for nothing.
Adding Swihart would allow the Mets to rotate him and Plawecki this season, the way the team initially planned to do with the likes of Plawecki and d’Arnaud. It would push Mesoraco to the odd man out, but he’s 30 and has only really had one good season under his belt in the majors. Next season would be a crunch with d’Arnaud healthy enough to return, but that’s an issue that can be addressed next offseason.
Nothing is guaranteed with Swihart, and he could just be another in a long line of prospects who fizzled rather than succeeding. But he’s young, available, and has upside. That’s worth taking a shot on for a team that still isn’t sure it has its answer behind the dish.