At the beginning of spring training, the question of whether Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki was the catching prospect the Mets should hold onto was no question. Travis d’Arnaud was the clear catcher of the future for the New York Mets. However, the play of Kevin Plawecki and the injury history of Travis d’Arnaud has raised an issue for the organization: Which catcher is the catcher of the future for the New York Mets?
d’Arnaud is the more proven player here in this comparison. Going through three organizations and playing seven minor league seasons, d’Arnaud has hit .285 with 67 home runs and 297RBI and has an OPS of .818. Over the past 3 seasons, d’Arnaud’s offense has drastically improved with a batting average at around .300 and an OPS of around .900. Also, there has been nothing but good said about d’Arnaud’s arm behind the plate, and pitchers love throwing to him. The one negative about Travis d’Arnaud is the injuries. Never playing more that 126 games in a season, d’Arnaud’s injuries were highlighted by a torn ligament in his knee last year that kept him from going to the majors. This season, after just 12 games, d’Arnaud fouled a ball off his foot has been out since with a fracture. At the position that is arguably the most injury prone and having a player that is clearly injury prone play that position does not add up well for the organization’s future.
Kevin Plawecki has come into his first full professional season scorching hot. He is hitting .364 with five home runs and 31 RBI and has as OPS of 1.042. Plawecki has a 30% caught stealing rate this year and is apparently very good with pitchers. The only issue with Plawecki is sample size. This being his first full professional season, it is impossible to know whether this is how he will consistently hit, how he will hit in the upper levels, or ever if he is injury prone like d’Arnaud. The one thing that is certain about Plawecki is that he is a very interesting prospect who is making his way up the organization’s depth chart.
The Mets need to do one of two options with their catchers. The first is to trade one. Whether it is d’Arnaud or Plawecki, one of these two needs to be put in a package for a major league outfielder. The Mets could view d’Arnaud as someone who gets injured too much for their liking and include him and could view Plawecki as someone to trade while their stock is high for an outfielder. Either option would be a good move for this organization.
The second option is to move Travis d’Arnaud to a new position (i.e first) and make Plawecki the catcher of the future. Having an injury prone catcher as the future does not sound like something that would end well regardless.. Therefore, the Mets should move d’Arnaud to the outfield or first base much like the Nationals did with Bryce Harper. This would take an injury prone player out of a tolling position as well as fill a gaping hole in our outfield. As a catcher, he would already have the arm and the only question would be his speed. No matter what the organization decides to do, it is starting to look like they will have a tough choice to make with their two catchers.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron