As such, the Mets have been big sellers throughout the summer trade season, with several veterans moving onto greener pastures. At the non-waiver deadline, closer Addison Reed found himself, as the Dropkick Murphy's might say, "shipping up to Boston." Then, a flurry of August waiver-wire transactions were made, with Neil Walker going to Milwaukee, Jay Bruce moving to Cleveland and Curtis Granderson winning the baseball lottery by joining the juggernaut Dodgers. In short, once trade season kicked in, baseball players were migrating out of "the city that never sleeps," en masse.
Of course, after all that was detailed above, there was yet one further transaction fulfilled by the Mets; this one was a straight up dump, as they received nothing in return, not even the mysterious PTBNL or Cash Considerations. Longtime catcher, Rene Rivera, was claimed on waivers by a first-place club and was allowed to walk without any compensation. This club had suddenly found itself in dire need of catching depth, after their starter went down with a hamstring injury, expecting to miss about a month of game action. That starter was Willson Contreras and that first-place, claiming club was the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubbies had been connected to the Mets and Rivera since mid-July, before the non-waiver trading deadline. After all, once Miggy Montero talked himself out of the city, it was a well-known fact that Theo and crew were on the hunt for a veteran to back up the emerging star that is Contreras. All in all, the Cubs ultimately went in a different direction, opting to bring in Alex Avila from the Tigers as the deadline clock wound down to zero. Unfortunately, just a few weeks later, Willson pulled a hammy, pushing Avila into the starter's position and top-prospect Victor Caratini into the backup role.
Luckily, I just so happened to have Rene's 2016 Topps Update single in my trade stacks, ready to be moved into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.
In order to make room for the 14-year veteran on the 40-man roster, Aaron Brooks was designated for assignment:
No... not that Aaron Brooks...
Dammit, wrong again....
YES - that's the Aaron Brooks was DFA'ed to make room on the roster for the claim of Rene Rivera. Jeeze, the Wrigley Roster Jenga interns are really off their game this morning.
Brooks is a righty starter, who was acquired to be rotation depth from the A's, in exchange for Chris Coghlan, during spring training last season. Unfortunately, injuries limited his time on the mound and his effectiveness when on it, missing most of 2016 and then posting an ERA over six in 24 AAA starts. However, there's a good chance that Brooks will go unclaimed, be outrighted to the minors, and stay in Iowa; so, there's still hope for Aaron, yet.
As for the 25-man roster spot, as expected, Victor Caratini was sent back to Iowa, so that he can continue to see regular playing time and refine his backstop skills. While his bat is about as ready as can be for the Show, the converted infielder is still a work in progress in the defense department.
Rather than risk stunting Vic's development or thrust the "work in progress" into the middle of a tightly contested playoff race, Epstein and Co. scoured the waiver-wire for a competent, veteran presence and found Rene Rivera.
For what it's worth, Rivera used to watch the Cubs play with his grandfather when he was growing up in Puerto Rico. He said his grandfather loved broadcasters Harry Caray and Steve Stone and "It's an honor for me to be here (with) a team he loved so much and now I play for." Here's hoping that Rene's pitch-framing skills and veteran leadership come in handy for the stretch run; he's not a complete slouch with the bat either - he hit .230 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 54 games with New York.
Thanks go out to the Mets for holding a veteran garage sale this summer, allowing several contenders to plug holes on their final rosters. Also, welcome to Chicago and to my CATRC, Rene!