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 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.
Rivera went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer and a walk Tuesday against the Cardinals. Rivera left the yard for the fourth time this year in the fourth inning to pull the Mets within one run in a losing effort. The part-time backstop has homered in two of his seven starts this month, and he's now slugging .356 in 92 at-bats on the season.
Rivera, starting at catcher with Noah Syndergaard on the hill, went 3-for-4 and drove in the game-winning run Tuesday against the Cubs. Rivera is known for his defense but his offense was the difference Tuesday. His single in the ninth scored Neil Walker to give the Mets the lead they didn't relinquish despite a stressful bottom of the frame. Rivera's hit helped make up for his throwing error following Syndergaard's wild pitch that allowed Willson Contreras to score the first run of the game. Manager Terry Collins spot uses Rivera, who sees most of his time when Syndergaard pitches or a day game following a night contest.