March 26: Mesoraco has indeed been placed on the restricted list, tweets Jon Heyman of the MLB Network.
March 25: Veteran catcher Devin Mesoraco, who was in Spring Training with the Mets as a non-roster invitee but reassigned to minor league camp over the weekend, is now contemplating retirement, The Record’s Matt Ehalt reports (Twitter link). Mesoraco has no plans to report to Triple-A with the Mets, but rather than release him the organization could instead place him on the restricted list. If that happens, per Ehalt, Mesoraco’s inclination is to retire.
It’s a bizarre scenario in which a veteran player does not appear to have been contractually promised anything but may have had a handshake agreement with the team. As Newsday’s Tim Healey reported over the weekend, during their discussions on a minor league contract this winter, Mesoraco’s camp was given the impression that he’d have a path to the big leagues either in the event that Travis d’Arnaud proved unready for Opening Day or should the Mets carry three catchers. Now, despite the fact that d’Arnaud will indeed be on the injured list to begin the season, Mesoraco was assigned to minor league camp and asked to report to Triple-A.
Mesoraco’s contract doesn’t contain an opt-out provision, it seems, though multiple reports last week indicated that his contract did have an “upward mobility” clause. The Mets last Wednesday informed teams that Mesoraco would be available should any team wish to put him on the big league roster, at which point they had 48 hours to inform him of their intent to do so. The Mets, in turn, would’ve then had the opportunity to instead place him on their own 25-man roster to prevent him from leaving. As the New York Post’s Mike Puma reported (via Twitter), however, no team expressed the intent to add Mesoraco to its big leagues roster.
Given that report, it’s possible that Mesoraco wouldn’t find a more immediate path to the Majors elsewhere anyhow. That said, he’d still have the opportunity to speak to other clubs with less-solidified catching situations where he could have a more plausible chance at a promotion back to the show. While it’s impossible to know exactly what kind of verbal assurances were given or implied during negotiations, it’s also understandable that Mesoraco would feel jilted had he spent the entirety of camp believing himself to have been competing for an opportunity that was never really there. To this point in Spring Training, he’s gone 6-for-26 with a homer and three doubles after batting .222/.306/.409 in 222 plate appearances with the Mets last year.
Frankly, it’s difficult to see what the Mets gain by placing Mesoraco on the restricted list rather than releasing him. The team doesn’t view him as one of its best options behind the plate — they’re reportedly in agreement with Rene Rivera and also have d’Arnaud, Nido and Ramos on the 40-man roster — and all 29 other clubs already passed when the Mets made him available. Perhaps the organization feels that Mesoraco is in violation of his contractual terms and that a hard line simply needs to be drawn, but beyond that possibility the motive seems muddled.