The party line with Travis d'Arnaud has always been plus power potential but can he stay healthy? Entering 2017, it's now fair to question the pop as he's declining in that department. Of course, the multitude of injuries have curtailed growth and catchers often hit the power peak later in their career, so there's still reason for optimism. A right rotator cuff strain cost d'Arnaud most of the first half and he never got it going after returning. The backstop's solid strikeout rate remained intact to go along with a league-average hard contact rate; there's still a reasonable batting average floor, especially for a catcher. However, 2016 featured a big drop in flyballs and HR/FB, resulting in a weak .076 ISO. The second-half struggles resulted in d'Arnaud ceding primary catching duties to Rene Rivera, putting his 2017 role in flux. He's plenty young enough to turn things around, but he needs to demonstrate last season's power outage was a blip, and stay healthy.
Mets manager Terry Collins told d'Arnaud that the team wants him to play about 100 games this season, The NY Post reports. That doesn't seem like a particularly high target, but d'Arnaud's career high in games played is 108, set in 2014, due to his inability to stay healthy. If he does regain the form he showed a couple of years ago he could be a sleeper, but the 28-year-old carries too much risk to be anything more than an endgame option at catcher in most fantasy formats.
D'Arnaud has spent the offseason completely retooling his swing, as well as working on his throwing mechanics behind the plate, The NY Post reports. The 27-year-old catcher is coming off the worst offensive season of his career, and while d'Arnaud's inability to stay healthy certainly played a big role in his .630 OPS, the length of his swing was also an issue. Eliminating his habit of wrapping the bat around his head while in his stance, and taking a more direct path to the ball, could help him recapture the promise he showed in 2015 when he hit 12 home runs with an .825 OPS in 67 games. The Mets still have Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera on hand to provide competition, but d'Arnaud will get at least one more chance to establish himself as the team's catcher of both the present and the future.
D'Arnaud agreed to a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the Mets on Friday, avoiding arbitration, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reports. He is on track to enter the year as the Mets' No. 1 catcher, but on the heels of posting a 74 wRC+ with just four home runs and a .247 average in 276 plate appearances, his draft day price will be as low as ever. While a bounce back of sorts should be expected, d'Arnaud no longer looks like a high-upside option at the position.
The Mets plan "to at least keep their eye open for external options for their top catcher role," which could possibly move d'Arnaud out of the role, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports. Injury issues continued to haunt d'Arnaud in 2016, with elbow and shoulder problems forcing him to miss most of the first half. It's hard to blame the Mets for being open to finding a more durable option, but it could be difficult to find a catcher on the market that can match d'Arnaud's upside and his price.
D'Arnaud, who is out of the lineup Wednesday, appears to have been passed on the depth chart by Rene Rivera. Rivera has started three of the last four games, and appears to be the go-to option behind the dish for the Mets down the stretch. D'Arnaud, who entered the year as a consensus top-10 catcher for fantasy purposes, has had a brutal season at the plate, slashing .253/.309/.332 with four home runs in 250 plate appearances. Typically he has carried the label of "good when healthy," but he failed to live up to that billing this season. It could simply be chalked up to an off year in a small sample size. The Mets will likely head into spring training next year with d'Arnaud as the unquestioned starter at catcher, so he'll make for a cheap bounce-back option in drafts next season.