Terry Collins is only under contract as the Mets’ manager through the 2017 season, but even in the event that the team has interest in re-signing him, Collins isn’t certain that he’d manage beyond next year, he tells ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.
“I just need to re-evaluate at the end of this coming year what’s going on, where I am, how I’m feeling,” said Collins, who admitted that the 2016 season was tough on him. Asked by Rubin if the next season would be his last as a manager if he felt the same in October 2017 as he does in October 2016, Collins indicated that was likely. The 67-year-old Collins is MLB’s oldest manager, Rubin notes, and the toll of traveling for a 162-game schedule understandably takes a toll on any human being — especially on evenings on which the team has to travel following a night game in order to arrive for an afternoon contest the following day.
Collins also addressed next year’s rotation, implying the obvious truth that there are uncertainties throughout the staff. “As we saw from Zack Wheeler, not everything is etched in stone,” the manager explained. “…We’ll make sure we don’t push them too much early in spring training, so that they are ready. Coming out of spring training, are they ready to go seven innings? Probably not, some of those guys.”
Collins did note, though, that there’s “no reason” the team would expect Wheeler not to be ready come Spring Training, as it’ll have been nearly two full years since his Tommy John surgery at that point. The offseason should also give Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (ulnar nerve repair) and Steven Matz (bone spur removal) ample time to heal up, though there can be no certainties until each is on the mound next spring. (That fact is what prompts many to believe that the Mets are likely to re-sign veteran Bartolo Colon.)
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Furthermore, Collins emphasized the importance of getting Travis d’Arnaud back up to full strength. While he cautioned that it’s not his call as to whether the team pursues outside help behind the plate, Collins spoke like a man who currently anticipates that d’Arnaud will have every opportunity to be the regular catcher again in 2017. “We’ve got to get him better,” said Collins of d’Arnaud. “…He had 250 at-bats when he should have 500. You’re talking about a guy who missed half the season. … He is going to be one of our No. 1 projects in spring training. We’ve got to get this guy back, and we’ve got to get his bat going. If he is what we thought he’s going to be, he’s a middle-of-the-lineup guy who can do damage from the right side.”
Indeed, d’Arnaud struggled greatly in 2016, batting a mere .247/.307/.323 with four home runs in 276 plate appearances. That represents a precipitous drop-off from a 2015 season in which d’Arnaud slashed .268/.340/.485 with 12 homers in roughly the same number of plate appearances (268). Set to turn 28 years old in February, d’Arnaud has never been a poster child for healthy seasons, as he’s never topped 108 games or 385 plate appearances in a big league campaign.
This past season he missed nearly two months with a strained right rotator cuff and upon his return was ineffectual enough with the bat that he lost playing time to light-hitting veteran Rene Rivera over the season’s final weeks. He’s also spent time on the disabled list due to a concussion, a fractured finger and an elbow sprain as a Major Leaguer in addition to knee troubles while still playing in the minors.
If the Mets do wish to look outside the organization for some help at catcher — which would be a disappointing outcome for a team that not long ago boasted a pair of Top 100 prospects behind the plate in d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki — the free-agent market does offer its fair share of alternatives. Top free agent Wilson Ramos saw his future clouded by an ill-timed ACL tear late in the season, but Matt Wieters, Jason Castro, Nick Hundley and Kurt Suzuki are each coming off respectable seasons and figure to avoid being tagged with a qualifying offer. Additionally, the trade market could bear some options, including Yankees backstop Brian McCann, although the Big Apple’s two teams don’t line up on trades particularly often.
Mets fans will want to check out Rubin’s entire column, as it’s chock-full of quotes from Collins and also contains insight from Rubin, who once again indicates that the Mets fully plan on exercising their $13MM option over Jay Bruce, as he suggested following the team’s exit from the postseason.