According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, the Mets’ front office has never been thrilled with catcher Paul Lo Duca. Rubin recalls their pursuit of Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez a couple of offseasons ago before abruptly trading for Lo Duca. Rubin says the Mets are already laying the groundwork for an offseason trade for Pirates’ catcher Ronny Paulino. Lo Duca would like to remain a Met, but the team doesn’t appear interested.
Paulino, 26, had a fine rookie season for the Bucs in 2006. He hit .310/.360/.394 and threw out 36.2% of baserunners with improving mechanics behind the plate. He’s been effective against the running game again this year with 38.5% caught stealing. However, the bottom dropped out on his offensive line, which is not a shock since it was supported mostly by batting average. Paulino’s statistical profile is actually quite similar to that of Ramon Hernandez, so there is definitely hope for him. I’m not sure why the Pirates would give him up, though a Jarrod Saltalamacchia acquisition would be a good reason.
The Orioles could possibly put Hernandez on the market, should they prefer to escape the $15MM+ he’s owed for 2008-09. Jorge Posada will probably re-sign with the Yankees, and the Tigers are likely to exercise Ivan Rodriguez’s option. That leaves Michael Barrett, Jason Kendall, and Brad Ausmus as the free agent possibilities. The Mets could also turn to internal option Ramon Castro.