The Mets went into 2009 with Brian Schneider expected to do the bulk of the catching and Ramon Castro filling in the days between.
Schneider’s season has been riddled with minor injuries and stints on the DL, so Castro has gotten a lot more playing time than was expected.
Schneider’s injuries also led to the emergence of Omir Santos, who performed well enough for the Mets to trade away Ramon Castro once Schneider returned.
Since Schneider’s contract will be up at the end of this season, and his time with the Mets has been anything but extraordinary, I don’t think he’ll be a part of the plans for 2010.
That being said, I don’t think the Mets can rely on Santos being an every day catcher, unless they’re prepared to add strength to the line up at other positions. This poses a small dilemma for the Mets, because there are really no overwhelming options in the free agent pool for catchers next season.
Victor Martinez may be available if the Red Sox don’t pick up his option, but I can’t see that happening. There’s no telling that Jason Varitek will be back next year, and a player like Martinez has a lot of value for an AL team.
Martinez can catch, play first base, and DH. He gives a manager a lot of flexibility, and can help keep a team fresh by giving guys days off, although his catching ability is somewhat questionable.
I’m not sure his defense is good enough to be an every day back stop.
Ivan Rodriguez will also be available at the end of next season, but he’s fast approaching 40 years old, and should only be considered for a platoon situation. I can’t see the advantage of having two right handed batting catchers in a platoon, so this seems somewhat unlikely.
Jason Kendall is an every day catcher that will be available, but his best days seem behind him, as he’s batting .228 this season in 98 games.
Rod Barajas may be a better option. He’s only batting .241, but has some pop with 10 HRs this season. Sure he’s not a middle of the order guy, but he’d likely provide more power in comparison to the other options available, and power has been a problem all season.
Yorvit Torrealba may be available next season. The Rockies have a $4 million option on him, but have been using the younger Chris Iannetta to catch most of the time, so he has a high price tag for a back up catcher.
The last time Torrealba was a full time catcher, in 2007, he hit .255 with eight HRs and 47 RBI. Again, he’s no superstar, but like I said, there really are no superstars available. He does have the best baseball name of the guys I’ve mentioned so far.
If the team is truly on a limited budget, it seems that none of these players available will be a huge improvement over Omir Santos and a back up catcher.
This may be a case of, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.