The Mets search for an upgrade at catcher seems to be centering on Colorado's Ramon Hernandez, according to multiple reports.
Hernandez, currently on the disabled list with a left hand strain, is slated to return to action soon, meaning that talk could heat up in the coming days. The price for Hernandez also might not be very high. Joel Sherman reported that the Mets are viewing any trade of the backstop as a salary dump by the out-of-contention Rockies and won't give up a significant prospect.
But would acquiring a 36-year-old veteran of 14 seasons who's currently hitting .215 and is coming off an injury be an upgrade?
In short, yes.
First of all, Hernandez's batting line is likely to come back up. He has a career .265 average and hit .297 in 2010 and .282 in 2011. He has a career .278 batting average on balls in play, but that number has dipped to just .205 this season. Additionally, he's only received 101 plate appearances with the Rockies this season after reaching at least the mid-300s the last several seasons. Give him more chances and he's likely to improve.
He would also be an immediate defensive upgrade, having throwing out 30.5 percent of would-be base stealers during his career.
Meanwhile, the Mets current catching tandem is offensively anemic at best. Josh Thole is hitting .264, but he only has a .631 on-base plus slugging percentage. For all of his issues this season, Hernandez has a .658 OPS.
Thole has also thrown out just 26 percent of base stealers.
Backup catcher Mike Nickeas is even worse, with a .172 average, .487 OPS and just eight of 38 career base stealers gunned down.
Hernandez also bats right-handed, helping to balance a team that significantly leans left. Thole, the team's current primary catcher, is a lefty.
A trade for Hernandez wouldn't get a lot of press, but it might be a low-cost (in terms of prospects) way to strengthen the Mets for the stretch run.