A lot of the New York Mets’ fan base is sick of the J.T. Realmuto rumors at this point, but it looks like they won’t have to deal with them for much longer. SNY baseball insider Andy Martino is reporting that the Mets are “moving closer to resolution” on their catching situation, although he did caution that nothing was imminent. The team did lay a lot of groundwork for potential Realmuto deals at the Winter Meetings, and the information that GM Brodie Van Wagenen gathered there is going to help inform the team’s final decision. It seems logical that the Mets would like to have their starting catcher in place before Christmas, when the league typically goes into a lull before the start of the new year.
Martino did indicate that while he has heard the Mets are very serious about free agent Yasmani Grandal, he doesn’t believe that Grandal has become the Mets’ top option. The team has done a lot of work on the catching market, and it is unclear how they rank the various catchers available in trade and free agency. The only information we really have to work with is the belief that the Mets are valuing defense behind the plate, which would seem to put a guy like Wilson Ramos further down the Mets’ priority list. Here’s an educated guess on the team’s list of priorities.
- Trading for Realmuto-The Mets have worked long and hard on this option, and Van Wagenen appears highly motivated to complete a trade. If the Miami Marlins are willing to accept either Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo as the headliner in a return, the Mets may pull the trigger in hopes of signing A.J. Pollock as a follow up move. The problem has been that Miami is seeking an exorbitant return in an effort to make up for getting essentially nothing back in trades for Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna last winter. With seven teams in the mix for Realmuto right now, the Mets risk missing out on the other catchers if they stick in this for too long.
- Signing Grandal-The best catcher on the free agent market is Grandal, who is an elite pitch framer and offers pop from both sides of the plate. Grandal does have some concerns, however, notably the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers benched him in the playoffs for Austin Barnes. The Mets would also have to give Grandal a four year deal worth at least $60 million, which would likely take them out of the running for an outfielder of Pollock’s caliber due to budgetary restrictions.
- Signing Martin Maldonado-Maldonado is clearly the best defender on the market, throwing out a league high 49% of base runners in 2018. The issue is that Maldonado is an incredibly light hitter, batting .225 with nine home runs and 44 RBI’s last season, production the Mets could probably approximate with their current catching duo of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. Adding Maldonado to a lineup that already features the developing Amed Rosario and a rookie in Peter Alonso creates three questionable spots in the lineup, making a Pollock signing a necessity to make up for the offense.
- Signing Wilson Ramos-This is a move that Mets’ fans prefer but the team doesn’t seem as high on. Ramos is a proven hitter, batting .306 with 15 homers and 70 RBI’s in 2018, which would help lengthen the Mets’ lineup. The Mets aren’t as high on Ramos due to his defense, which is worse than the other three on this list, and the fact that he has a lengthy injury history. Ramos is likely a fall back option if they don’t get one of the other three.
- The Field-This is for the possibility that Van Wagenen is working on another angle that hasn’t been publicized yet. Jonathan Lucroy is also available in free agency while players like Francisco Cervelli and Russell Martin may be options on the trade front. Van Wagenen has been a bit of a stealth bomber with some of his moves, such as signing Jeurys Familia in the middle of the night on Wednesday when there hadn’t even been a hint of interest in a reunion, so we cannot rule this possibility out.
In essence, the Mets have five options to fill the catcher’s spot. Realmuto is the best player on the list, and if they can acquire him for a package featuring Nimmo, Andres Gimenez, Kevin Plawecki, and another prospect it would be worth exploring if A.J. Pollock is signed to replace Nimmo. Otherwise, the best move would be simply to sign Grandal and proceed from there. The good news is that #MetsTwitter should get a break from the incessant Realmuto rumors soon.