The offseason is just starting to heat up, and the New York Mets are looking to make some moves. The team has a whole lot of weaknesses in their roster at the moment, and these next few weeks will prove to be crucial for the team's future success.
One of the main needs for the Mets is at the catcher position. Josh Thole was the team's starting catcher on Opening Day last season, and fans were hoping for him to solidify himself as the Mets catcher of the future. Sadly for them, that did not happen. Thole had a lackluster 2012 campaign, and might have even took a few steps backwards, as far as his talent goes.
His batting average plummeted and his strikeout rate went up. His defense didn't look like it improved much either. Thole isn't a bad player, but he just shouldn't be the team's starting catcher. He is a much better fit as a backup catcher, in my opinion.
With that said, the free-agent market for catchers isn't that deep this year, so the Mets will have to look hard to find someone. The top free-agent catchers are Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski. Russel Martin was somewhere on that short list too, but he just recently signed a contract with Pittsburgh, so he is obviously not an option anymore.
Mike Napoli is a very solid player, and is in the top tier of catchers in the league. Because of the thin crop of catchers, Napoli has been garnering a lot of attention from teams all over. It has been confirmed that him and his agents have already engaged in talks with Seattle, Boston and Texas.
Napoli will most likely be awarded a contract of at least three years, worth $30 million, and don't be surprised if it turns out to be more. He has a decent amount of pop behind the plate, and the Mets could desperately use some help in the power department.
We will see how things look for Napoli and the Mets once the Winter Meetings progress. Napoli's price tag might be a bit high for what the Mets are looking for right now, but he is certainly worth a look.
Pierzynski is also a pretty good option for the Mets, as the veteran knows what he's doing behind the plate, and knows how to win. His age might raise a red flag though, but the truth is that he had a career year last season.
He is also a New York native, and he might want to make a homecoming, for all we know. That is just speculation though, and I don't believe that the Mets should go too crazy for him. He is worth a look, but only at a reasonable contract.
That is basically it for the free-agent catchers that could be an upgrade for the Mets, so now let's take a look at the trade market.
One of the most intriguing options for the Mets is to talk to Toronto about their young catchers. The Blue Jays have just recently acquired veteran catcher, John Buck, from the blockbuster Miami deal. The arrival of Buck makes the Toronto catcher scene pretty crowded.
J.P. Arencibia has been rumored to be on the trade market, due to the simple fact that the Jays don't really have room for him anymore. Buck will probably be the Opening Day catcher for Toronto, and then it will be top prospect Travis d'Arnaud's time to shine.
The Jays are looking for pitching, and that is one of the few positions that the Mets are deep in. That makes these two teams look like a pretty great match. J.P. Arencibia is a power-hitting catcher and can hold his own behind the plate. He is also pretty young, at 26 years old.
A deal built around Jon Niese and J.P. Arencibia could definitely be in the works in the near future. That would help both teams out, and give the Mets the catcher that they have been looking for a long time.
As always, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this offseason, but the upcoming Winter Meetings will help give the fans a look into what direction the Mets want to go in. All of the previously mentioned options would be an upgrade for the Mets, and we can only hope that Sandy Alderson and Co. make something happen.