Analyzing the Mets' options at catcher for 2021 season if J.T. Realmuto is out of the equation

Danny Abriano
·3 min read
James McCann points to the sky
James McCann points to the sky

Before the offseason began, J.T. Realmuto seemed like a perfect fit for the Mets. And while that may still may be the case, signs are starting to point away from Realmuto landing in Queens.

First, there was the report that Realmuto was "not particularly keen" on playing in New York.

And on Thursday, SNY's Andy Martino wrote that it's hard to see the Mets (or Yankees) fitting Realmuto into their offseason plans.

When it comes to the Mets, Martino reported that they appear more focused on George Springer and perhaps Trevor Bauer.

While adding either of the above players would be huge for the Mets, they'll still need to find a starting catcher for 2021. And once you get past Realmuto, the options aren't plentiful.

Here's who the Mets could turn to...

JAMES MCCANN

McCann is not Realmuto, but he would be a good consolation prize for a team in dire need of a catcher who can be a plus on both sides of the ball.

The 30-year-old McCann was among the better pitch-framers in baseball in 2020 (something outgoing catcher Wilson Ramos struggled mightily with) and has been an overall plus defender behind the plate the last two seasons.

McCann's pop times (the moment the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt to the moment the ball reaches the fielder’s projected receiving point during a stolen base attempt) can stand to improve a bit, though.

Offensively in 2020, McCann slashed .289/.360/.536 after slashing .273/.328/.460 in 2019. 

While he's the second-best option on the market, McCann will cost a lot less than Realmuto in terms of years and dollars. That could allow the Mets to address a position of need while spending big elsewhere.

YADIER MOLINA

The Mets and Yankees have expressed interest in Molina, reports Martino.

Per Martino, the Mets and Yanks are among about five teams who have reached out.

Molina, 38, is trending downward, having hit .268/.310/.388 over the last two seasons for the Cardinals. His OPS in 2020 was .662.

Defensively, Molina is still an above-average framer, and his overall defense behind the plate has been a tick above average the last few seasons -- far off from his peak, but still solid.

While Molina would be a better bet than the rest of the available free agent catchers not named Realmuto or McCann, taking a chance on a 38-year-old with declining skills on both sides of the ball is not something the Mets should be doing.

THE REST OF THE FREE AGENT FIELD

Austin Romine and Mike Zunino are among the best options here, but both of them profile more as backups than starters.

Beyond those two are guys like Jason Castro, Wellington Castillo, and Matt Wieters.

Again, the options are not great.

IN-HOUSE OPTIONS

Top prospect Francisco Alvarez will likely not be ready until 2023 at the earliest, which means if the Mets are going in-house to solve their catching problem, they'll almost certainly be turning to Tomas Nido, Ali Sanchez, or Patrick Mazeika, who are all on the 40-man roster.

All of those players profile as backups, and only Nido has legitimate big league experience.

If the Mets end up going with Nido, it will likely mean they've added multiple impact bats elsewhere and are comfortable with a defense-first player behind the plate who probably won't hit much.