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Mets’ catching situation remains a problem

Kevin Plawecki is expected to return this month as the starting catcher.

Mets catcher Jose Lobaton strikes out swinging against

Mets catcher Jose Lobaton strikes out swinging against the Brewers during the fifth inning of a game at Citi Field on April 14, 2018. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will address the media before Tuesday night’s game against the Braves and likely will be asked about the team’s paltry production from the catchers.

Jose Lobaton (.143) and Double-A call-up Tomas Nido (.167) are filling in for the injured Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. D’Arnaud was hitting .200 when he was lost for the season with partially torn UCL in his right elbow. Plawecki was at .150 when he sustained a hairline fracture in his left hand.

Plawecki is expected to return this month as the starting catcher, but the 27-year-old is unproven at the major league level with a career batting average of .219. He was in a platoon situation with d’Arnaud at the start of the season.

In 2017, d’Arnaud hit .244 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs. He hit .297 with six homers and 19 RBIs in September, which probably made the Mets figure they didn’t need to upgrade the position over the winter. D’Arnaud had a capable backup in Rene Rivera, who filled in nicely behind the plate and batted .230 with eight home runs. Rivera was part of the Mets’ housecleaning and in August was sent to the Cubs, where he hit .341 in 20 games. He is now with the Angels and batting .323 in 15 games.

There doesn’t appear to be any other alternatives within the Mets organization. Can the Mets find someone from the outside?

Free agent Miguel Montero would be a no-brainer and probably an upgrade over the Lobaton-Nido duo. The 34-year-old Montero did not make it beyond four games this season with the Nationals, who signed him to a one-year deal for $1.3 million. He’s a decent receiver and lifetime .256 hitter. His career went on a rapid decline last season when he criticized Cubs starter Jake Arrieta’s ability to hold runners after seven stolen bases in a game. Montero was summarily shipped to the Blue Jays.

J.T. Realmuto, the Marlins’ catcher, missed the first 16 games of the season with an injury, but is now batting .357 with four home runs in 42 at-bats. Only 27, he has a .282 career batting average. He is earning $2.9 million this season and in spring training made some noise that he wanted to leave the organization under Derek Jeter’s austerity program. The Mets would take him in an instant, but Jeter isn’t giving him away. The Marlins would want significant minor league prospects and the Mets’ probably do not have the prime candidates required for a player of Realmuto’s caliber.

For some reason, Jonathan Lucroy’s name pops up now and again, but his salary and lack of production make him something of a non-starter with the Mets. Now with the A ’s on a reported $6.5 million deal for one year, the Mets apparently had no interest in him when he was a free agent in the winter because his power had waned from his best years with the Brewers. The Mets were ready to go all in on him two trade deadlines ago, but couldn’t get it done. At 32, he’s hitting .267 with no home runs and seven runs batted in Oakland. He could be made available by the July 31 trade-deadline, but interest would be minimal at his salary and current level of production.

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