February 11, 2013
The Keeper Reaper
Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop for 2/11/13
Travis d'Arnaud | Mets
Shallow (30 Keepers): No
The minor-league staff, led by Jason Parks, ranked d'Arnaud as the second-best prospect in the Mets' farm system earlier this winter, after he came over in the R.A. Dickey trade with the Blue Jays. D’Arnaud is nearly big-league-ready, and he probably would have reached the majors as a member of the Blue Jays last year had he not suffered a torn PCL in his left knee in late June. The injury didn't require surgery, so he'll be ready to compete for the Mets’ primary-catcher job in spring training.
The Mets aren't expected to contend this year, and with that in mind, keeping d’Arnaud in the minors to delay his service-time clock at the beginning of the season would be a prudent financial decision. Not so fast, though: Back in the middle of January, the New York Daily News quoted general manager Sandy Alderson as saying he wouldn't rule out d'Arnaud breaking camp with the Mets. The most likely scenario is that John Buck plays well enough to fend him off, and d'Arnaud opens the year playing for the Mets' new Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas (which, incidentally, was previously the Blue Jays' affiliate). Catchers with above-average offensive potential are a rare breed, and while a number of other young backstops with potent sticks have emerged in recent seasons, they are still the exception to the rule.
During his peak years, d'Arnaud has a chance to hit for a helpful average—north of .275—and add 20-plus homers; but expecting him to play at that level in his rookie season is probably too ambitious. Nonetheless, with a prospect like d'Arnaud, you have to race the masses, and that means grabbing him before he establishes himself as one of the best offensive catchers in the game. He is a keeper option that should help teams a bit this year, but he's being kept more for his long-term value, and instant gratification may not be in the offing.
Jedd Gyorko | Padres