Before Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets will have to decide whether to keep rookie catcher Travis d’Arnaud in the majors, or return him to the minors when John Buck returns from paternity leave. Unless the Mets pass Buck through waivers and trade him, the they should send d’Arnaud back to triple-A for more seasoning until rosters expand in September.
After making his MLB debut on Saturday, d’Arnaud has played the last three games for the Mets, going hitless in seven at bats, with five walks. Although d’Arnaud has looked the part of a major league player, and is clearly willing to take a walk (which general manager Sandy Alderson and the front office will absolutely love) he can still benefit from more seasoning in the minors. After all, he is yet to get a hit in the majors, and he can take all he has learned from his three days in the big leagues and try to make improvements while back in the minors.
With d’Arnaud missing so much time due to injury, both last season and this season, he has just 86 career games in triple-A. He could still benefit from two more weeks at that level before returning to the big leagues in September, in anticipation of being the Mets’ every day catcher in 2014 and beyond.
One benefit d’Arnaud would have if he finishes off the minor-league season before returning to the Mets in September, is that he would be part of a pennant chase, as the Mets’ triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas is chasing a division title in the Pacific Coast League. The games d’Arnaud would play in Las Vegas would be meaningful to his team, which is not something that can be said if he stays with the Mets.
The Mets will certainly be tempted to keep d’Arnaud, as they’ve gotten all they could have hoped to get out of Buck this season, and have no attachment to backup Anthony Recker; they should continue to show patience, and give d’Arnaud a chance to get more seasoning in the minors. They’ve waited a long time to make him their full-time catcher already, and they can wait another two weeks.