March 27: The Mets have announced the signing.
March 25: The Mets have reportedly reached a minor-league agreement with free-agent catcher Rene Rivera, who recently opted out of a deal with the Giants. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle first reported the Mets’ interest over the weekend (Twitter link), with Jon Heyman of MLB Network reporting today that the sides were in talks (via Twitter). Andy Martino of SNY reported that there was an agreement (Twitter links), with Joel Sherman of the New York Post noting it was a minor-league deal (via Twitter).
This’ll be the second stint with the Mets for Rivera, who also spent time with the club from 2016-17. The reunion comes as something of a surprise; this time last week, indications were that Devin Mesoraco had a strong chance of making the Mets’ roster behind Wilson Ramos. At one point, Mets skipper Mickey Callaway suggested that the Mets could even carry Ramos, Mesoraco and Travis d’Arnaud to open the season.
However, d’Arnaud is now slated to begin the season on the injured list, and Mesoraco’s status is up in the air; as Newsday’s Tim Healey reported this weekend, Mesoraco has decided not to report to Triple-A after being reassigned to minor league camp by the Mets. He’s still under contract, so they’ll need to either grant him his release or place him on the restricted list. With both Mesoraco and d’Arnaud abruptly out of the mix for an Opening Day roster spot, Rivera could leapfrog defensive-minded 24-year-old Tomas Nido as the favorite to serve as a backup to Ramos early in the season.
Rivera, 35, split the 2018 season between the Angels and Braves, hitting a combined .233/.275/.419 in 91 trips to the plate. Rivera routinely posts elite caught-stealing rates and is a perennially solid framer as well, which would make him a quality backup option for the Mets at least until d’Arnaud mends. Over the past five seasons, Rivera is a .225/.280/.372 hitter in 1183 plate appearances.