Travis d'Arnaud, a 23-year-old backstop who played at Triple-A last season, headlined New York's return package in a seven-player trade that sent knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in December.
Being traded for a Cy Young winner is nothing new for d'Arnaud, who went from the Phillies to the Blue Jays three years earlier as part of the return for Roy Halladay.
"We viewed d'Arnaud, and I believe the industry views Travis, as the top catching prospect in the game," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.
"And not just the top catching prospect, but the one who is closest to major league ready—if not 'now' major league ready."
D'Arnaud is the rare two-way catching prospect. In a 67-game stint with Las Vegas last season, he belted 16 homers and 21 doubles while hitting .333/.380/.595 in 279 at-bats. The year before, he won MVP honors in the Double-A Eastern League.
Behind the plate, his skills are considered to be improving.
"He's become a much better defensive player," said Marti Wolever, the Phillies' scouting director who drafted d'Arnaud in the supplemental first round in 2007. "His receiving skills have certainly gotten better. His ability to call a game and handle a pitching staff has certainly gotten better."
Despite his obvious potential, d'Arnaud missed most of last season with a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that required rehab but not surgery.
"I understand he has not done anything at the major league level," Alderson said, "but given his ceiling, given his position and given what we think he can do not just long-term for the Mets, we think he can be a difference-maker."
In the Dickey deal, Toronto also bundled three other players to the Mets: big league catcher John Buck and prospects Noah Syndergaard, a 20-year-old righthander, and Wuilmer Becerra, an 18-year-old corner outfielder.
• Don't expect the Mets to turn immediately to righthander Zack Wheeler with the trade of Dickey. They intend to start him in Triple-A, with the hope he'll be ready for the big leagues by early summer.