Surprise! Mets have awful fallback plan at catcher

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When viewed in isolation missing out on Bengie Molina last week wasn’t really a bad thing for the Mets, because he’s old and overrated and fairly expensive. However, this report from Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News regarding the team’s fallback plan at catcher may have Mets fans thinking differently:

Jerry Manuel suggested Omir Santos would be the favorite to be the No. 1 catcher if the Mets don’t add another backstop before Opening Day. That presumes Henry Blanco as the backup and Josh Thole and Chris Coste at Triple-A Buffalo. Mets executives are meeting this afternoon, and I’m told it’s 50-50 whether they decide to go with what they’ve got or sign one of the remaining free agents, Yorvit Torrealba or Rod Barajas.

I’d still bet on the Mets signing Yorvit Torrealba, but if they don’t and Omir Santos ends up starting 4-5 times per week behind the plate … well, it’ll be ugly. Santos got enough timely hits last season to convince some Mets fans who just don’t know any better that he’s a good player, but in reality he batted .260 with a ghastly .296 on-base percentage, .391 slugging percentage, and terrible 44/15 K/BB ratio in 306 plate appearances
And before anyone points out that he was a rookie and is thus likely to improve, please note that Santos was a 28-year-old rookie who previously spent nine seasons in the minors hitting .258/.304/.348, including .256/.311/.325 at Triple-A. Guys who spend a decade in the minors posting a .652 OPS tend not to maintain a .671 OPS in the majors, so as bad as Santos was last season that was actually him playing over his head. Bengie Molina never looked so good.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.