The New York Mets did something they probably should have done three years ago: Trade pitcher Matt Harvey.
After designating the 29-year-old for assignment on Saturday, general manager Sandy Alderson dealt the pitcher formally known as “The Dark Knight” to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco.
On optics alone, it looks like a pretty even deal. Both Harvey and Mesoraco are 29 and have had promising careers derailed by the injury bug often over the past three seasons.
While Harvey’s Tommy John surgery and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome are well-documented here in New York, Mesoraco was limited to just 95 games from 2015-2017 due to left hip surgery, a torn labrum in his left shoulder and a fractured foot.
It’s been a difficult journey back for the catcher, who was an All-Star in 2014 after belting 25 home runs while driving in 80 RBI with a .273 batting average. Mesoraco entered the 2018 season as Tucker Barnhart’s backup, appearing in 18 games with Cincinnati despite battling a bruised wrist in the process and he hasn’t shown an ability to shake off the rust quite yet.
In the 114 games he’s played in since his stellar 2014 campaign, he’s hitting just .194 with 7 home runs and 20 RBI.
But in regards to the Mets, desperate times call for desperate measures as the team has received little from the catcher’s spot after Travis d’Arnaud went down for the season and Kevin Plawecki broke his hand. They’ve relied on Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton in the meantime and haven’t gotten any sort of offensive production. Nido is batting .135 while Lobaton has a .163 batting average of his own. In the 34 combined games they’ve played in, the emergency catchers have recorded a combined 12 hits and four RBI.
This season, Mets catchers rank 29th in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). That’s just not good enough for a team that could legitimately challenge for the National League East this season.
Simply looking at the numbers since 2015, it doesn’t look like Mesoraco could provide much of a boost at the position, but this is the first time since that All-Star season that he is healthy. He’ll once again become a No. 1 catcher with New York where he’ll begin to gradually acclimate back to seeing MLB pitching.
Defensively, Mesoraco provides an upgrade from d’Arnaud, Plawecki, though his numbers are similar to that of Lobaton’s and Nido’s as he’s thrown out 25-percent of potential base stealers throughout his career. Plawecki and d’Arnaud combined to throw out just 1-of-12 potential base stealers this year.
At the end of the day though, it’s all about offense. It’s doubtful that he’ll be able to reproduce the numbers from 2014, but it’s a definite improvement toward the bottom of the Mets lineup instead of rolling out two flat-out liabilities in Nido and Lobaton.
Mesoraco is only signed through the 2018 season, so if he doesn’t produce, the Mets will let him walk in free agency. If he can improve things behind the plate though, Mesoraco could very well be the first legitimate catcher the Mets have had since Paul Lo Duca.
Either way, the Mets were still able to get rid of Matt Harvey and got something in return, which is an automatic win.