The Mets need a full-time catcher, and it looks like they’re going all-in on the Realmuto sweepstakes. I’m not kidding – why not Sanchez?
The Mets are finally in a position where they can spread some money around to take on higher salaried players via trades or in the free-agent market.
The Mets have many needs, but in constructing a winning ballclub, the priority is always strength up the middle – your center fielder, middle infielders, and catcher.
It’s no wonder, for instance, the Mets’ first draft pick when the team was formed in 1962 turned out to be a catcher – Hobie Landrith.
Concentrating (today) solely on the “heart and soul of any team” – it’s the catcher position – where the Mets surely need an upgrade from Wilson Ramos.
Distracted by the separation from his family in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Ramos fell off considerably in 2020, leaving open a door for the Mets to replace him.
Mets Realmuto, Realmuto, Realmuto
All the talk and rage is about J. T. Realmuto, and rightly so. New York newspapers are already sending out the notice about a “war” between the Yankees and Mets for his services – no matter what the cost will turn out to be (projected as high as $200 million).
Without a doubt, Realmuto would be a prize who would follow in the footsteps of Mets icons Gary Carter and Mike Piazza.
But unless the Mets new owner Steve Cohen intends to go bananas, spending wildly to bring the flock to his throne, the Mets have needs other than catching (think starting pitching) where Realmuto’s money can otherwise be spent.
Mets Pickings Beyond Realmuto
Beyond Realmuto, when you peruse the Class of 2021 Free Agent Catchers, a few names other than Ramos, who is also a free agent, pop up.
James McCann, Mike Zunino, who is making a name for himself as a contributor to the run the Tampa Bay Rays are having, and Austin Romine all fall within the age the Mets or any other team, is likely to consider for a multi-year deal.
But as mentioned before, free agents are not the end-all method to improve a team.
Unfortunately, one of those avenues is blocked. Mets minor league catching prospects are there, but none are ready for prime time.
Al Sanchez, rated #24 among Mets prospects, was figured to be major league ready by 2020, but his offense hasn’t caught up to his highly rated defensive abilities.
Zooming up to the top of the MLB Mets Top Rated Prospects, we find Francisco Alvarez at Number 2, signed by the Mets for $2.7 million in 2018. He’s only 18, though, and any help this year would amount to a miracle.
Mets: The Final Catching Resource
This brings us to the final way the Mets can improve in the catching position – executing a trade.
There may be other catchers to consider in this light, but I want to center on one – Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees.
Mets fans may or may not be aware of the Yankees “experience” with Sanchez over the last six years, but trust me – it’s been filled with false starts and disappointment on both sides.
Unless their brain trust is completely off the rails, the Yankees will quietly be shopping Sanchez this offseason.
Still challenged defensively, Sanchez receives high marks for his incessant work to improve behind the plate. Following two years of leading the league in passed balls, there’s been an improvement, especially during the 2019 season.
The big thing with Sanchez, of course, is his bat. A bat that hibernated in 2020 remains the Yankees lure over the years.
However, something ain’t working in the Bronx between the Yankees and Sanchez, and most will agree it’s time for a change.
A huge factor for the Mets will be if MLB holds onto the universal designated hitter rule for next season and beyond. Indications are it’s been a popular change, if not among baseball purists, then certainly within the scope of managers, GM’s, and the player’s union.
Gary Sanchez – The Mystery Man
Sanchez will be 28 in December, and in theory, at least, he can be had for almost nothing. Eligible for arbitration for the first time this year, Sanchez can cost the Mets not much more than the $5 million he earned in 2020.
Will the Mets and Yankees, perennially non-trade partners, engage in talks?
Initially, it would be up to Sandy Alderson to smooth the pavement, selling the idea – Hey, would you rather have Sanchez playing for a rival AL opponent, or safely tucked away in the National League?
Let’s be clear. With Gary Sanchez, the Mets are letting it all hang out, taking a risk on an enigmatic player who, in the end, may need a psychiatrist more than a coach to reach his much-hyped potential.
At the very least, the Mets should entertain the idea of Gary Sanchez tucked in a 2021 lineup between Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, and Dominic Smith.
Realmuto looks good there too, but why not spend his dollars to augment a starting staff of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard (hopefully), and David Peterson?
Just thinking out loud…