Paul Lo Duca – No one seems to think the Mets will bring him back for ’08. Brian Heyman of the above-linked Daily News cites his "non-impact season offensively and some embarrassing off-the-field related headlines." Odd how Lo Duca’s off-the-field issues seem to carry more weight than Ramon Castro’s. Lo Duca still seems capable of hitting southpaws.
Ramon Castro – I wrote extensively on Castro here. Despite his desire to be the Mets #1 catcher, he has an injury history and the Mets opted for Lo Duca over him in ’06. He might want starting catcher money and the Mets don’t seem convinced.
Ivan Rodriguez – Pudge is definitely on the radar, but GMs are divided on whether the Tigers will exercise his option. If he’s out there, expect the Mets to make a run at him.
Jorge Posada – A lot of teams, the Mets, included, are going to make offers to Posada if he reaches free agency. Nobody thinks he’ll leave the Yankees though.
Michael Barrett – Barrett might’ve made sense had his bat not died this year. He seems to have a poor reputation around baseball right now, and 2008 will be his chance to redeem himself. Perhaps on a one-year deal.
Yorvit Torrealba – Kind of a darkhorse in that he’s under 30 and his bat is less than lifeless for a backstop. Aside from this year he’s been pretty good at throwing out baserunners. His numbers might dip down the stretch as the Rockies don’t have a capable backup right now. That would only make him more of a bargain.
Jose Molina, Brad Ausmus, Jason Kendall – If you want to completely sacrifice a spot in the order, these guys are options.
If the free agents aren’t suitable, there are some trade options.
Ronny Paulino – It’s known that the Mets have some interest, but the Bucs don’t really have anyone to turn to behind the plate. And I don’t think Paulino would come cheap.
Jeff Clement – Even tougher to pry away would be the Mariners’ catcher of the future. Kenji Johjima is only signed through 2008 so the Ms can conveniently work Clement in to be the starter in ’09.
Bengie Molina – The Mets apparently made identical offers – I believe it was 3/18 – to Molina and Ramon Hernandez after the ’05 season. But Molina was oddly left standing and signed a one-year deal with Toronto despite coming off a career year. He performed well and spun it into an ill-advised 3/16 deal with the Giants. Should the Giants decide to use ’08 as a rebuilding year, Molina will definitely be available this winter.
Ramon Hernandez – Hernandez signed a four-year pact with Baltimore, and it looked solid after he posted an .822 OPS in 2006. However, his power has fallen off drastically this year and he’s had injury problems. He might be available, especially if the O’s sign Matt Wieters and expect him to move quickly. But Hernandez’s contract has a limited no-trade provision that specifically names the Mets and Yankees as teams he has veto power over. That probably indicates he’s not dying to play in New York.
As for the short-term need for a catcher, don’t look for the Mets to re-acquire Mike Piazza. He’s seemingly incapable of catching, anyway.