First-time manager Brad Ausmus’ coaching staff will include Omar Vizquel, who’s joining the Tigers as a first base coach.
Vizquel immediately went into coaching following 24 seasons in the majors, spending this year as a roving minor league infield instructor for the Angels. Now he joins Ausmus’ staff, which includes veteran bench coach Gene Lamont, who’s a holdover from Jim Leyland’s regime.
Vizquel debuted in 1989 and played 24 seasons and Ausmus debuted in 1993 and played 18 seasons, but somehow they managed to never be teammates. And now that Vizquel is on a big-league coach staff at age 46, it seems like only a matter of time before he becomes a manager.
The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.
Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.
In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.