Matthew Cerrone at MetsBlog takes on the question facing the Mets since mid-day yesterday: Who starts at catcher next year?
Ramon Hernandez, who was offered a contract by the Mets two years ago when he was a free agent, is said to be Omar Minaya’s top choice. However, this presents a problem. Hernandez won’t come cheap, and the Mets would need to retain their best trading chips if they want to acquire a front-line starter. This would seemingly rule Hernandez out, since "word from Baltimore had been that Hernandez would cost a high-end prospect."
A cheaper trade option would be Miguel Olivo, though it’s likely he will be non-tendered by the Marlins, who probably don’t want to give him a raise over his $2 million 2007 salary. Gerald Laird is another option, as the Rangers have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez in tow. The Mets might be able to acquire him without giving up a piece of the puzzle to acquire an ace.
Olivo and Laird would be more likely to platoon in some capacity with Ramon Castro, while Hernandez would be more likely take on a starting role.
Cerrone says the Mets prefer to sign a catcher. He mentions Michael Barrett, but notes his Type A status, which may be a deterrent for many teams. Maybe he’d make sense for a bottom-15 team, since Barrett would then cost a second rounder. Jason Kendall is also mentioned, though his horrid 2007 is giving pause to potential suitors.
So, in the end, Paul Lo Duca appears the best choice. He costs neither draft picks nor prospects. True, he might not be able to hold up over an entire season, but that’s why the Mets signed a capable backup in Castro.
Joe Pawlikowski is co-author of River Ave. Blues.