CARLSBAD, Calif. — The Mets are satisfied with the quality and quantity of their catchers, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. But that hasn’t stopped them from looking for a new one.
“We’re in a fortunate position that we don’t have to do anything in the catcher market,” Van Wagenen said on Thursday. “We’ll continue to talk to free agents at that positions and others and then also exploring trades. But we can go into camp right now feeling like we have that position covered.”
The Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto — perhaps the best catcher in baseball — is available via trade, but Mets fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. The Mets don’t have a prospect pool deep enough to put together a package for Realmuto, according to a source familiar with Miami’s thinking.
The Mets have four top-100 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline — one example of an external ranking that is far from gospel within organizations — including shortstop Andres Gimenez (No. 55) and first baseman Peter Alonso (No. 58), who is on the cusp of the majors.
Of course, Realmuto is appealing to the Mets, as he is to most any team.
“That type of player — an impact player offensively and defensively — we will be looking to explore all avenues to acquire those types of players, be it free agency or a trade,” said Van Wagenen, highlighting the Mets’ mix of young major-league players in addition to prospects. “When you have that combination, it allows a lot of flexibility to do different things when you’re looking to trade.”
Various reports have linked the Mets to Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos and Martin Maldonado, the top free-agent catchers this offseason. This time of year, mere interest isn’t a particularly high bar to clear, with the GM meetings representing several days of every team talking to a lot of agents about a lot of players.
“It’s making sure we’re starting to at least put the groundwork for what future discussions will be,” Van Wagenen said.
Van Wagenen’s open-mindedness about catchers is consistent with his stance regarding every aspect of the Mets’ roster — and organization generally — but the reality is the Mets could use an upgrade behind the plate, particularly if that comes with an upgrade at the plate.
In 2018, Mets catchers combined for -1.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. That ranked 21st out of 30 major-league teams.
For now, Van Wagenen is talking up the Mets’ internal options, including Travis d’Arnaud, who the GM says expects to be healthy for Opening Day following Tommy John surgery in April. The Mets also have Kevin Plawecki, who hit .210 with a .370 slugging percentage and struggled with base-stealers in 79 games last season, and Tomas Nido, considered an above-average defender who has been well below average offensively in limited big-league time.
Van Wagenen went as far as to say that other teams are interested in the Mets’ catchers.
“We have three catchers on the roster that I think all can be major-league contributors,” Van Wagenen said. “So I think it’s a position we, like everywhere on our roster, we’ll look to see if there’s areas of improvement, but I think there’s been a fair amount of interest in our catchers from some of the other teams that are looking for those players as well.”
Notes & quotes: Terry Collins, who for the past year has held the title of special assistant to the GM, has had talks with Van Wagenen about remaining involved in the Mets’ player-development efforts. “That will be a role I identify for him as something that’s important to me and he’s expressed that desire as well,” Van Wagenen said. “We’ll have a meeting of the minds, how that role evolves in terms of how specific it is. We’ll work through that in the coming days and weeks.” . . . Van Wagenen said this week did not bring any clarity on the futures of assistant GM John Ricco and special assistant to the GM J.P. Ricciardi.