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.
D'Arnaud was 0-for-4 in throwing out basestealers Friday with Noah Syndergaard on the mound, even failing to gun down Jake Marisnick on a pitchout, and as a result Rene Rivera will be Syndergaard's personal catcher to begin the season, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. The Mets were hoping the addition of catching coach Glenn Sherlock to the staff would help d'Arnaud improve his throwing, but that hasn't been the case this spring as the 28-year-old is 0-for-12 in nailing would-be thieves. Better results at the plate should at least allow d'Arnaud to remain in a starting role, and to his credit he is hitting .325/.413/.550 through 40 spring at-bats, but if his hitting doesn't rebound significantly from last season's .630 OPS, he could once again find himself on the bench behind Rivera more often than not.
D'Arnaud hit his second home run of the spring Monday and the Mets are thrilled with his performance so far in camp, The New York Daily News reports. "It's really good to see because he's worked so hard to fix his swing,'' manager Terry Collins said. "And he hasn't had to throw a lot, but he threw very, very well the other day. So hopefully he's on the right track." He's hitting a robust .450 (9-for-20) through seven Grapefruit League games and d'Arnaud's simplified swing is drawing rave reviews. "I'm able to see the ball longer and not have to cheat to get to certain pitches,'' d'Arnaud said Monday. "I've shortened the swing up so it's more direct and I don't have to over-commit too soon." The 28-year-old's track record of getting hurt on a regular basis makes him difficult to trust on a fantasy roster, but in deep leagues he's looking more and more like an intriguing sleeper for 2017.
D'Arnaud went 1-for-3 with a solo home run off Marlins closer A.J. Ramos in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game. His offseason work to simplify and improve his swing has paid quick dividends to begin the spring, and d'Arnaud is now hitting .500 (4-for-8) through the Mets' first few Grapefruit League games. He remains little more than a lottery ticket in shallower fantasy formats, but the 28-year-old catcher still has time to get his career back on track if he can just stay off the DL.
D'Arnaud went 2-for-2 in Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Red Sox. After retooling his swing in the offseason, this was exactly the kind of start the Mets were looking for out of d'Arnaud this spring. He's locked in as the starting catcher to begin 2017, but will need to stay healthy and continue hitting to keep Rene Rivera and Kevin Plawecki from cutting into his playing time.
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.