Despite a solid spring training showing, Rene Rivera was released by the Rays within a week of Opening Day. He ultimately signed a minor league deal with the Mets, and following an injury to starter Travis d'Arnaud, Rivera made his way up to the major league squad before the end of April and stayed there for the remainder of the season. The fact that he wasn't sent back down spoke more to fellow catcher Kevin Plawecki's struggles rather than Rivera taking the job by storm, as the 33-year-old hit just .222 and struck out in over a quarter of his plate appearances. It doesn't come as much of a surprise as he's always been viewed as more of a defensive catcher. However, there were some bright spots on the offensive side, as he mashed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .314/.429/.514 slash line, albeit in just 42 plate appearances. The Mets brought him back to be d'Arnaud's backup in 2017, so he should play once or twice a week.
Rivera is likely to catch all of Noah Syndergaard's starts to begin the season, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. While the battery showed good chemistry last season, this decision has more to do with Travis d'Arnaud's inability to throw out basestealers than it does with Rivera's skills. If d'Arnaud's bat can't compensate for his defensive limitations, Rivera could once again see more playing time than expected in 2017, but his .222/.291/.341 line last year paints a grim picture of his fantasy upside.
Manager Terry Collins says there is a "good chance" Rivera catches for Noah Syndergaard on Opening Day, Marc Carig of Newday reports. With Travis d'Arnaud and Rivera both putting up solid springs, the competition appears to be closer than anticipated. This could be a preference by Syndergaard or simply a chance to establish more opportunities for a platoon system going forward. Until something changes, however, d'Arnaud should still be considered the primary catcher this coming season.
Rivera agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Mets on Friday, avoiding arbitration, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Rivera is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball, which explains why he is worth almost $2 million despite posting a 70 wRC+ last year and a 63 wRC+ for his career. He will serve as Travis d'Arnaud's backup in 2017.
Rivera is out of the lineup Sunday against the Phillies, ESPN.com's Adam Rubin reports. Rivera will rest up for the second day in a row before preparing for the Mets' postseason run. It's uncertain if he'll continue to rank ahead of Travis d'Arnaud as the Mets' preferred catching option in the playoffs, but his sound defense and ability to handle the team's pitching staff might be good enough to get him a few starts.
Rivera, who is starting behind the dish and hitting eighth Wednesday, appears to have passed Travis d'Arnaud on the depth chart. He is getting his third start in the last four games, primarily because of what he brings to the table on defense. D'Arnaud has had a really rough year offensively, and the Mets seem content to settle for the better defender, accepting the fact that they may not get much on offense regardless of who is catching.