Mets Need to Catch the Big One if They Want to Make the Playoffs

Article originally written sometime in July

 

With just over two months left in the regular season, the Mets trail the Washington Nationals by six games in the NL East, but only sit two games back of the L.A. Dodgers in the wild card race. With a solid lineup and a quality pitching staff, they are poised to make a stretch run to the playoffs, IF they fill the one glaring hole in their lineup, catcher.

With only four days left until the August 1st trade deadline, the Mets appear to be trying to fill that gap with the Brewers Jonathan Lucroy. The deal makes perfect sense. Especially if the organization wants Mets tickets to stay in high demand. Lucroy is batting .300 with 50 RBIs and 13 home runs. Should he find himself wearing the Mets’ pinstripes, he would immediately be top three in all of those statistical categories on their roster. Simply put, with no other catcher on the roster even sniffing that production, the Mets need Lucroy’s bat.

The case to acquire him, potentially regardless of price, is made even stronger when you look at his fielding numbers. The Mets have used three different catchers this year. They have combined to turn six double plays and catch 27 runners attempting to steal in 100 games. Lucroy has turned five double plays and caught 32 runners stealing in just 81 games. While you can argue that the Mets catchers have a better CERA (3.35 to Lucroy’s 4.42) that speaks more to the Brewers subpar pitching staff than it does to Lucroy’s ability to call a good game.

The final piece that makes this move a no-brainer is Lucroy’s salary. Basically, after getting to borrow him for the final two months of the 2016 regular season (and hopefully beyond) the Mets will retain Lucroy’s services for the bargain basement price of $5.25 million in 2017.

There are a few things standing in their way, a potential lack of quality prospects in their farm system (the Brewers aren’t just going to give away the two-time All-Star for peanuts) and their belief that Travis d’Arnaud can still be their future at catcher. However, if the Mets are serious about repeating as National League Champions and getting another shot at their first World Championship since 1986, they need to overcome these obstacles.

Nobody says they need to move d’Arnaud in a package for Lucroy. In fact, it might be good to keep him since he is three years younger and about $4.5 million cheaper. But with a batting average below .250 and only two homeruns and 10 RBIs, his bat is not in the same class as Lucroy’s and his CERA of 3.95 is the highest of all three catchers the Mets have used this season. In other words, he may have a future, but Lucroy is the present if the Mets want a shot at the World Series.

So, scrape together enough farm system prospects (and yes, you will have to give up some that are playing key roles for their current clubs), throw in draft picks or even a player or two if needed and give your fans something they haven’t seen in 30 years, a championship.