With less than a week until pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, the New York Mets have three options behind the plate for 2017. Travis d’Arnaud, Rene Rivera, and Kevin Plawecki all filled in at catcher during the 2016 season. d’Arnaud began 2016 as the team’s starter, but an April shoulder injury sidelined him in favor of Plawecki. The veteran Rivera eventually assumed the starting role by mid-season, and put up better offensive numbers than both d’Arnaud and Plawecki.
It is clear that the Mets see the 28-year-old d’Arnaud as their future catcher rather than the 33-year-old Rivera. At the same time, d’Arnaud hit just .222 in 185 at-bats last year, adding six home runs and 16 runs batted in. His Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in 2016 was -7, while Rivera’s was 4. Plawecki, although he played less, had a DRS of 8. d’Arnaud realizes the need to live up to expectations.
Kevin Kernan of The New York Post reported on d’Arnaud’s vigorous offseason training regimen, detailing d’Arnaud’s visits with Mets coach, Glenn Sherlock. The Mets brought Sherlock in from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he serves as the team’s catching and third base coach.
“He was a huge help,” d’Arnaud told Kernan. “Sometimes I rush throwing. He showed me a lot of videos where he said I was really, really quick, but in my mind I looked like I was slow.”
d’Arnaud threw out just 22 percent of baserunners last season, possibly because of his aforementioned shoulder injury. With his shoulder back at 100 percent and his constructive work with Sherlock, d’Arnaud’s defensive numbers should improve in 2017. He also needs to prove he can stay healthy, as he has never played more than 108 games in a single season.
d’Arnaud also worked with hitting coach Kevin Long on improving his batting setup and bat speed. He hopes to return to his 2014-2015 production that saw him hit 25 home runs and 82 RBI over those two seasons.
This mindset is nothing new for d’Arnaud. He told Kernan last month of his optimism for 2017. “I feel really strong,” he said. “I’m really excited. If we have all those guys…the possibilities are endless. Everyone has that goal of winning the whole thing.”
Jesse Andreozzi is a staff writer at Outside Pitch Sports Network covering the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Jesse_Andreozzi