The Mets announced on Tuesday that they’ve placed catcher Travis d’Arnaud on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right rotator cuff and selected the contract of veteran backstop Rene Rivera from Triple-A Las Vegas to take his place on the roster. Right-hander Zack Wheeler was moved to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on what was a full 40-man roster, per the club’s press release.
Rivera, 32, is an excellent defensive catcher but was one of baseball’s worst hitters in 2015 when he batted .178/.213/.275 in 319 plate appearances with the Rays, who released him in Spring Training. With the exception of a very strong 2014 campaign in which he batted .252/.319/.432 in 329 PAs with the Padres, Rivera has never been much of a threat with the bat, and his lifetime .211/.258/.331 batting line speaks to that point. However, Rivera has also successfully thrown out 38 percent of attempted base-stealers in his big league career, and he consistently draws well-above-average framing marks from Baseball Prospectus and Statcorner.com, both of which ranked him as one of the absolute best in baseball in 2014.
For d’Arnaud, the shoulder ailment adds to a lengthy history of injuries. He’s been on the disabled list in the Major Leagues for a concussion, a broken hand and a hyperextended elbow prior to this, and that list doesn’t include a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his knee that cost him more than half of the 2012 season in the minors as well. At this time, it’s not clear precisely how long d’Arnaud will miss, though Newsday’s Marc Carig tweets that d’Arnaud himself doesn’t have a sense of how much time he will miss.
The Mets, though, are fortunate to have a backup of Kevin Plawecki’s quality that can step into d’Arnaud’s place in the lineup. In fact, reports have suggested that one of the reasons New York signed Rivera in the first place was to bring in a competent backup catcher that would allow them to option Plawecki to Triple-A to receive everyday at-bats. Instead, it’ll be an injury to d’Arnaud that allows him to get those at-bats at the Major League level rather than in Triple-A. Plawecki, 25, was the 35th pick in the 2012 draft and rated as a consensus Top 100 prospect entering last season. He’s a career .290/.364/.432 hitter in the minors but has managed just a .216/.282/.288 line through his first 278 MLB plate appearances.