Let’s hope John Buck is for real.
The Mets announced on Thursday that catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, the centerpiece of the R.A. Dickey deal, has a non-displaced fracture in his left foot. He’s headed to New York for further tests. There’s no timetable yet for his return, nor is it known whether surgery will be required.
From a 2013 perspective, the Mets weren’t exactly hurting at catcher, thanks to John Buck’s 187 OPS+ through 13 games. In fact, as recently as yesterday, Terry Collins was talking about bringing up d’Arnaud and moving Buck to first base at the expense of Ike Davis, which is precisely the kind of move managers in the final year of their contracts would suggest after getting swept in a doubleheader, and which are hopefully vetoed at higher levels.
But really, this does two things: it delays d’Arnaud’s development by a few months, and it calls into question the durability of a guy who played 71 games in 2010, 67 games in 2012 and is now set to miss serious time in 2013. His bat profiles elsewhere, but he isn’t nearly the elite prospect if he’s at first base, for instance. (Also, you may not believe this, but Davis is probably coming out of his slump.)
Concluding that d’Arnaud is injury-prone forever or needs to switch positions is entirely premature. But ultimately, teams assess such things based on data points like this one. So it doesn’t help matters when projecting the future of d’Arnaud at catcher.
The good news is, Matt Harvey pitches on Friday. And if d’Arnaud doesn’t make it, there’s always the John Buck of the South Atlantic League, Kevin Plawecki!