The Mets acquired Kelly Shoppach from the Red Sox today for a player to be named later. Shoppach, a right-handed hitting catcher that’s not half-bad offensively, fills a need for the Mets: He can spell Josh Thole against lefties without creating a hole in the lineup. He’s not Johnny Bench on either side of the ball and he had back-to-back woeful offensive seasons in Tampa Bay in 2010 and 2011, but Shoppach has been a patient hitter with some pop in his bat for most of his career. He doesn’t make a ton of contact, but all things considered he’s about a league-average backstop offensively and represents an obvious upgrade over the woeful hitting the Mets have gotten from their backup catchers this season.
What’s odd is the timing. Shoppach is eligible for free agency after the season, so unless the Mets believe he’ll accept arbitration, he doesn’t factor in their plans for 2013. And though he makes the team ever-so-slightly better for the next couple of months, he’s hardly enough to catapult them back into the Wild Card race from nine games out.
The Red Sox called up prized catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway a couple of weeks ago, and they too are more or less out of the race. So maybe the move is about clearing room for Lavarnway to catch more often, and the Mets’ angle is something along the lines of, “Hey — free upgrade, why not?” But a lot depends on the quality of the player yet named, obviously.
For now, the Mets get a little bit better, which is nice. I suspect the move will make a bit more sense at some point in the future.