CINCINNATI -- With their catchers' offensive production lagging well below league average, the Mets on Tuesday acquired Kelly Shoppach off waivers from the Red Sox for a player to be named.
Shoppach, 32, hit .250 with five home runs, 12 doubles and 17 RBIs in 48 games for Boston, starting often behind the plate against left-handed pitchers. His career OPS against lefties is .894, compared to .656 against righties -- making him an ideal complement to incumbent backstop Josh Thole.
For that reason, manager Terry Collins indicated that at least initially, he will platoon his two catchers.
"I think that's probably one of the reasons why we got him," Collins said of Shoppach, referring to "the damage he can do against left-handers."
Without Shoppach, New York's catchers have done little against all comers over the first four-plus months of the season, entering Tuesday's play with a collective .588 OPS, fourth worst in baseball. The team recently demoted Thole's backup, Mike Nickeas, to Triple-A Buffalo after he produced a .469 OPS over 101 at-bats, the third-lowest mark of anyone in baseball with that many reps.
Nickeas' replacement, Rob Johnson, has fared only slightly better, making him the likely roster casualty when the Mets activate Shoppach in time for Wednesday's game.
In any case, the acquisition creates something of a crossroads for Thole, whose salary has the potential to skyrocket when he becomes arbitration-eligible after this season. To date, the Mets have endured Thole's sagging offense in part because of his potential, and in part because of his negligible salary. With the latter imminently set to increase, Thole must start producing more consistently to retain his job.
"I think when he first got here, everybody thought he was going to hit, and hit a lot," Collins said. "But he puts the bat on the ball. We knew he would. You wish he'd hit for a little more power, because he can. He's got some. But he's also one of those kinds of guys that his value is not striking out, putting the bat on the ball. That's who he is and what got him here, over trying to hit the ball in the seats."