In the fantasy baseball world, catchers are always risky. In the fantasy baseball world, rookies are always risky as well. But somehow, despite being both of those things, Travis d’Arnaud is not all that risky of a fantasy option for 2013.
The only real issue surrounding d’Arnaud is when he will be promoted to the majors. Once there, he should be a viable fantasy option.
The Mets have said that d’Arnaud will be competing for a their starting spot behind the plate this spring, but that may well be a public relations strategy to help generate interest during spring training. The Mets would be best suited long-term to send d’Arnaud down to Triple-A to begin the season, both for developmental reasons and to gain an extra year of team control down the road. But we all know that may not happen.
d’Arnaud may not be worth drafting at the start of the season, but once he gets his call-up, he’ll be worth starting on most fantasy teams. It’s not that d’Arnaud won’t have a learning curve once he’s in the majors, but the bar has been set low enough for fantasy catchers that even with the standard rookie adjustment period, d’Arnaud should be better than a few of the guys starting in your league.
d’Arnaud has a career .286 batting average in the minors, although he doesn’t have the most patient approach at the plate, which could hurt his average in the majors and will hurt his value if your league uses on-base percentage instead of batting average. He does have above-average power for a catcher, however, so a batting average around the .260 mark will play. He should also get to hit behind David Wright and Ike Davis in the Mets lineup, so there should be ample RBI opportunities for him.
If you’re in a keeper league, obviously everything changes. d’Arnaud is the Mets long-term answer behind the plate and has the potential to be a top-5 fantasy catcher within a year or so. If you’re in a league where you have enough keepers to hold on to d’Arnaud past this year then he’s definitely worth drafting this season.
As with most rookies, keep an eye on the Mets plans for his call-up. If the Mets do decide to break camp with d’Arnaud, he may be worth drafting ahead of many of the catchers between the 8-12 range in most rankings simply because of his higher ceiling. If you lose out on the other top-tier catchers or have a deep bench, he could be worth drafting and stashing on your bench as well.