Lots of questions this week revolved around Ramos, Suzuki, Matt Wieters and the Mets’ catching situation. And the answer, quite simply, is no. Both publicly and privately, the Mets maintain that they do not foresee signing or trading for a catcher to replace Travis d’Arnaud. Even if the Mets don’t sign Cespedes, theoretically freeing up money to spend elsewhere, they prefer to keep things unchanged behind the plate.
The issue, mostly, is that the Mets do not see much value in an upgrade. While Wieters is certainly capable of outshining d’Arnaud defensively, he actually posted a lower on-base percentage than the incumbent Mets catcher last season. Now on the wrong side of 30, Wieters has significantly regressed each of the past two years.
Wieters hits free agent market
Eight-year veteran backstop hits free agency
Watch some of Matt Wieters’ memorable highlights from the 2016 season as the catcher is among the top free agents this offseason
Suzuki is two-and-a-half years older than Wieters and owns a .663 OPS the past seven seasons. I’m not sure there’s any reason to play him over d’Arnaud. There is also a dearth of catchers available on the trade market, for good reason: The good ones are pretty much all locked up.
If I were pulling the strings, the one move I’d consider would be a deal for Ramos, despite his potential to miss most of this season recovering from knee surgery. It seems like a fine risk until you consider that Ramos himself has questioned his ability to play the field until 2018. Without a designated-hitter spot to fall back on, the Mets might not have a place to put him.
Ramos hits free agent market
Catcher Ramos enters the 2016 free agent class
Watch some of Wilson Ramos’ memorable highlights from the 2016 season as the catcher is among the top free agents this offseason
So there is no perfect solution, which explains why the Mets are all but ignoring this market. They recently hired a new third-base coach, Glenn Sherlock, who doubles as a catching instructor. In that sense, the Mets hope to coax more ability out of d’Arnaud, a 27-year-old smack in the middle of his physical prime. A strong season from d’Arnaud would change the look of this lineup as much as anybody not named Yoenis. Remember, d’Arnaud is just one year removed from one of the better second halves of any catcher in baseball.
What will Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo‘s future with the team be if the regular five starters (Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler) are back and healthy?
— @jjkmetsfan via Twitter
It’s a big assumption, with four of the expected rotation coming off surgery. But it’s also a hopeful one for the Mets, who won’t go far next year without their rotation carrying them.
Where does that leave Gsellman and Lugo, who performed so well in starting roles last year? I suspect at least one of them will wind up in the bullpen, perhaps in a prominent role. If Jeurys Familia is suspended to open the season and Addison Reed is the closer, the Mets will be in need of an eighth-inning setup man. That would be a good place for Gsellman to put his mid-90s sinker to use.
Gsellman goes seven scoreless
PHI@NYM: Gsellman fans eight over seven scoreless
Robert Gsellman strikes out eight over seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks to earn his third win
Most likely, the Mets will want at least one of those two to stay stretched out as a starter at Triple-A Las Vegas, preparing for the inevitable. Injuries happen. Issues occur. All seven of those pitchers are likely to start significant games for the Mets by the time 2017 is complete.
What are the chances that the Mets sign Jerry Blevins? And if not him, what other relievers are they considering?
— @mariamb18 via Twitter
There’s definitely mutual interest in a pitcher who has seemingly done enough to warrant, at age 33, a multiyear deal. The Mets may detest giving out such deals to relievers in general, but they’re also not above making exceptions for the right fit. Blevins, who enjoyed his time in New York, could be that guy.
Beyond that, general manager Sandy Alderson has made it clear that he has little interest in the three top closers available: Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen. But the Mets need plenty of bullpen help. That means they’re likely to turn to the next tier of relievers — Blevins, Fernando Salas, Neftali Feliz, Brad Ziegler et al — in an attempt to bolster their bullpen from the middle innings out.
Mets look to improve bullpen
DiComo discusses Mets’ search for relief pitching
MLB.com Mets reporter Anthony DiComo talks about the team’s hopes to improve their bullpen in the free agent market
Alderson’s bullpen strategy usually revolves around signing one or two arms to big league contracts, importing a bunch more on Minor League deals, sprinkling in some prospects and letting the whole crew duke it out in Spring Training. I don’t see the Mets straying from that formula this year.
There’s a place for Flores so long as he continues hitting .340/.383/.710 against lefties. But his days as a super-utilityman are probably over. The Mets are wary of Flores’ ability to play defensively on the left side of the diamond, as well as his skill set against right-handed pitchers. At this point, Flores profiles as a platoon second baseman and the Mets’ top right-handed pinch-hitter. He’s a role player, with a chance to be a good one.
Amed Rosario looked really good in Double-A last year. He is on the 40-man roster now. Any way we see him with the Mets this year?
— @jamesmurray612 via Twitter
Maybe in September, but it’s doubtful the Mets’ No. 1 prospect, as ranked by MLBPipeline.com, will play any sort of significant role until 2018. He’s the Mets’ most exciting infield prospect since Reyes, and he only just turned 21 years old. The Mets are going to take it slow with Rosario, with an eye toward having him compete for the starting shortstop job a year from now.
Top Prospects: Rosario, NYM
Top Prospects: Amed Rosario, SS, Mets
2016 MLB.com Top Prospects: Amed Rosario is extremely athletic with a projectable frame that could add more strength and pop
Do you see the Mets signing Kelly Johnson? He has been such an asset the last two seasons.
— @kathy_bruni via Twitter
It seemed to make a lot of sense for the Mets before Neil Walker re-signed. But with Walker back at second base, and Flores, Reyes and T.J. Rivera all back to provide depth, there no longer seems to be room for Johnson on the roster.
… at least until July, when the Mets undoubtedly trade for him again. I’m only half-kidding.
Johnson’s pinch-hit grand slam
PHI@NYM: Johnson slugs pinch-hit grand slam
Kelly Johnson belts a pinch-hit grand slam to right-center field to extend the Mets’ lead to 11-1 in the bottom of the 7th inning #PapaSlam
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Inbox: Could Mets replace d’Arnaud with free agent?