He was once seen as a weakness, an area that required the Mets to move ahead of Major League Baseball’s trading deadline. Now, maybe not so much. The club’s catchers continue to contribute behind home plate and have been doing better lately.
When trade talks began to heat up around the All-Star break, the Mets didn’t have much to say offensively from their receivers. They were beating .198, which ranked 14th of 15 in the National League. Acquiring a catcher for the stretch run appeared critical.
Achieving a deal for Willson Contreras from the Cubs was one of the logical solutions to consider. The Mets didn’t, however, and, as the saying goes, sometimes the best trades are the ones a team doesn’t make.
That’s not to say Tomas Nido, who started Saturday night as the Mets hosted Philadelphia at Citi Field, and James McCann are overwhelming him offensively. But in the second half on Saturday, Mets receivers were batting a .273 total, which ranked them seventh in the NL in that span.
Nido has largely contributed to this offensive improvement. In the first half, he hit .210, but he brought a slant line of .289/.347/.400 from the All-Star break in Saturday’s contest.
Manager Buck Showalter was asked about Nido’s improved performance with the bat. He replied, “He hasn’t been that big [swinging] and as early incarceration. It goes into somewhat deeper accounts. . . Tomas, you know, he wants to hit. It’s like guys who don’t run particularly well but are good baserunners.
“Heck, Tomas led a league in batting in the minor leagues,” Showalter added, referring to his 2016 Florida State League batting title with Class A St. Lucie.
Mets receivers have been well above average defensively all season. Going into Saturday’s game, the club had the NL’s lowest 20 wild throws and four over-par passes. In the pitch-framing metric – crucial for catchers – Nido was among the best in the NL.
“The priority is always capture,” Showalter said. “I look at where their defensive measures are, especially with [McCann] Much improved. I can say that this has been a real priority for them this year.
In the club’s original plan, McCann was to be the starter and Nido the replacement. McCann, however, missed six weeks with a broken left hamamate bone and nearly four more with an oblique strain. Nido made his 66th start on Saturday.
McCann was taken off the disabled list with the Aug. 4 oblique injury — perhaps the only time the Mets have indicated an emergency regarding the catch situation. Under other circumstances, he might have stayed on the IL a little longer. He still hasn’t played back-to-back games, something one might have done in minor league rehab before returning to the major league roster.
McCann will catch Chris Bassitt in the series finale against the Phillies on Sunday and Showalter said he’s progressed physically to the point of playing back-to-back games on the upcoming road trip to Atlanta, Philadelphia and Yankee Stadium.
“I think at some point in this streak, this road trip, we’ll feel comfortable playing it back to back if we want to,” Showalter said.
Due to injuries, Nido has played more than he has in any other season. It’s especially worth noting that someone considered a backup would show better hitting after surpassing their career high in games played and plate appearances.
It’s in there,” Showalter said. “A lot of these guys, they come here and we forget that they were reaching third and fourth in a lineup somewhere along the way.”