D'Arnaud is a strong, wiry young man with excellent baseball instincts.
In 2007, his senior year of high school, Travis committed to Pepperdine on a baseball scholarship.
But Travis ended up signing with the Phillies for a bonus of $832,500 after they chose him in the supplemental portion of the first round of the 2007 draft.
Travis's older brother, Chase, played third base for Pepperdine in 2006 and 2007, then turned pro after the Pirates chose him in the 4th round in 2008. (Editor's note: Chase played in the Majors for several teams.)
D'Arnaud has a strong work ethic. And it gets better and better in every aspect of the game.
In 2009, Baseball America rated Travis as the 7th-best prospect in the Phillies' organization. And in the winter before 2010 spring camp they moved D'Arnaud up to #4 in the Phillies farm system.
And he was at #4 in the Blue Jays organization in the winter before 2011 spring training. Finally, in the spring(s) of 2012 and again in 2013, d'Arnaud became the #1 prospect in the Blue Jays farm system.
In 2014, after moving to the Mets organization, he was rated the second-best prospect in their farm system.
In 2011, d'Arnaud earned the MVP in the Eastern League. He led the league in slugging (.542), second in OPS (.914), fourth in home runs (21), and fifth in average (.311).
That season, he also won the inaugural Captain's Catcher's Award.
During the 2011 season, Travis started working on a pregame routine with New Hampshire manager Sal Fasano.
"You learn what works for you and what you need to be 100 percent for 7:00 and be ready to play every day," d'Arnaud said during the 2012 season. "I would be sure I had my receiving, blocking and throwing technique of it down so that that during the game I wouldn't have to think about it. It just comes naturally. I know I skipped a few days of it and whenever I skip it, I feel uncomfortable."
- Travis occasionally plays guitar in his spare time, a remnant of teenage afternoons as a string virtuoso. "I was first chair," the catcher says proudly of his middle school career, reflecting on a hobby he still indulges every so often.
Music, for d'Arnaud, is like baseball in a way. Even these days, when he plays simply to pass the hours, he wants to be great.
"But for, like, a less amount of time," he laughed, his speech exposing a certain measure of California cool. "For five minutes I'll really try, and then my mind will start wandering and I'll just do something else."
It was that skittish attention span that led d'Arnaud to volunteer for catching when he was 14 years old, quickly falling in love with the position because it allowed him to engage in every play.
Travis is very competitive. Even when he is playing his favorite video game, challenging random opponents online.
Travis and his girlfriend, Brittany, hiked around Lake Tahoe in November 2012.
In 2013, for those players with unorthodox names, New York's uniforms were anything but uniform at spring training camp.
Fifty-seven of the 58 Mets players in camp have their names written in all capital letters on the backs of their jerseys. The lone exception is Travis d'Arnaud, whose jersey sports a lowercase "D" with the rest of the letters in caps. That's because when clubhouse manager Kevin Kierst consulted the Blue Jays after d'Arnaud was traded, they told him that's how they always wrote it.
Not so for outfielder Matt den Dekker, whose Dutch name is also supposed to include a lowercase "D." His uniform reflected that spelling when he was a freshman at the University of Florida, but den Dekker requested a change because he thought his name looked "weird" with three lower-case letters and six capital letters. His uniforms have been in all caps ever since.
"People spell my name wrong all the time anyway," den Dekker said, laughing. "It's not hard to spell."
The days following Travis d'Arnaud's 2014 concussion were filled with emptiness. The extent of the concussion symptoms that d'Arnaud experienced: he was extremely sensitive to light. In the days that followed, d'Arnaud endured "a lot of headaches" and struggled to sleep.
"I was just lying in bed," d'Arnaud said. "Sometimes, if I was bored of that, I'd go to the couch and lay on the couch. That was pretty much it."
Even though d'Arnaud felt better and had been cleared for full baseball activities, this concussion was the third of d'Arnaud's professional career, following similar episodes in 2011 and 2008. Previous concussions typically make athletes more susceptible to future ones, prompting the Mets to explore ways to protect their starting catcher.
At the beginning of the 2013 season, the organization asked d'Arnaud to shift a bit further behind home plate. They also encouraged him to continue using the hockey-style goalie mask that he adopted in the Minors, though d'Arnaud now hopes to switch back to a traditional helmet with detachable mask.
Regardless of those factors, d'Arnaud knows he will always be at risk. In the wake of his 2014 concussion, he took solace mostly in the fact that Soriano's backswing was abnormally long and violent—the type that catchers do not often experience.
"Anytime you have a guy that says, 'Hey, I've got three concussions,' you've got to worry about it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But that was a pretty freakish thing." (DiComo - mlb.com - 5/22/2014)
After having breakfast with their parents, the d'Arnaud brothers decided to split a cab as they headed to work. They are sharing an office together for a few days this week, after all.
A few hours later they saw each other again, this time at home plate at Citizens Bank Park during the Phillies' 4-3 win against the Mets. For the first time in their careers, Chase and Travis played against each other in a Major League game. When Chase got called upon to pinch-hit for the Phillies in the seventh inning, Travis was behind the plate for the Mets.
"I was smiling the whole time," Chase said. "It was special, it was cool. We've grown up next to each other our whole lives and there we were on a Major League Baseball field."
Travis, the younger brother by two years, ultimately got the best of Chase in the matchup. Jon Niese struck out the elder d'Arnaud on five pitches—and he had some advanced scouting on Chase, even if the information was a bit dated.
"I still vividly remember being 6 and 8 years old, playing tape ball in the driveway, and knowing that I could throw that back-door two-seam to him," Travis said. "Fortunately, Niese was able to execute a couple of those on that front hip. In tape ball, that moved like five feet, so I had a little advantage against him. I pitched against him, so it was fun."
The brothers were not in this position since they were both playing in the South Atlantic League in 2009, and they soaked in the moment with a short chat before Chase stepped in the box. Travis told Chase that if he reached base, he better try to steal. Chase jokingly asked if he could groove him a pitch. There was not quite that much brotherly love on a misty night in South Philadelphia, though.
"In these circumstances where we're up by a couple runs, and they want to get home-field advantage playing the Dodgers," Chase said, "I wasn't expecting him to do me a favor." As for what Chase said after he struck out: "I'm going to keep that between me and him," Travis said with a laugh. (Pianovich - mlb.com - 9/29/2015)
January and February, 2016: Travis rented an RV and traveled from Lakewood, California to St. Lucie, Florida.
They stopped in Arizona for the Grand Canyon, waking up New Year's morning with the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. There were also stops in Lake Travis, Texas, near Austin; New Orleans, Panama City Beach and then Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Nov 25, 2019: Calling Travis passionate about baseball would be an understatement. Like any of his peers, d’Arnaud wants to earn a World Series ring before his playing career ends. He might have made the best possible choice with the Braves, who are widely considered to be one of the teams best positioned to win it all in 2020.
“I want to play until I can’t walk anymore,” he said. “I just felt like the fit in Atlanta was a great fit.”
d’Arnaud is expected to help fill the void created by Brian McCann, who retired at the end of the 2019 season. The 30-year-old is already relishing the presence of Braves catching instructor Sal Fasano, who he worked with several years ago when d’Arnaud was a Blue Jays farmhand and Fasano was with the Toronto organization. The backstop said he was “ecstatic” about their impending reunion.
d’Arnaud savored his postseason experience with the Rays last season, as they pushed the Astros to the limit in the American League Division Series but lost in five games.
“For me, that was huge,” said d’Arnaud. “It’s something I’ve always wanted and will continue to want -- to win the playoffs and the World Series.”
Briefly, d’Arnaud appeared serious about returning to the Rays, who signed him after he was jettisoned by both the Mets and Dodgers last season. But he ultimately decided that free agency would give him the best chance to join a title contender.
“The Rays talked to me about coming back. It’s just something that didn’t work out,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m forever grateful to them [for giving] me a chance to play again. No hard feelings at all. I have to give credit to all the people in the Rays organization who helped me believe in myself.”
d’Arnaud was largely referring to his comeback from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in April 2018, punctuating a career filled with several ailments including hand and wrist injuries, a sprain to his left (non-throwing) elbow and concussions. But, he sounded optimistic about what his future holds.
“I feel like I have a lot of years left,” he said. (C Haft - MLB.com - Nov 25, 2019)
June 2007: Travis was the Phillies' first round pick (supplemental), out of Lakewood High School in California. He signed with scout Tim Kissner for $832,500.
December 16, 2009: The Blue Jays sent RHP Roy Halladay to the Phillies; acquiring d'Arnaud, RHP Kyle Drabek, and OF Michael Taylor. The Jays then sent Taylor to the A's, acquiring INF Brett Wallace.
December 17, 2012: The Blue Jays sent C John Buck, d'Arnaud, RHP Noah Syndergaard, and OF Wuilmer Beccera to the Mets for RHP R.A. Dickey, C Josh Thole, and C Mike Nickeas.
Jan 14, 2017: Travis avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract for $1.9 million.
Jan 12, 2018: Travis and the Mets avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.
Dec 22, 2018: Travis and the Mets avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.
May 3, 2019: The Mets released Travis.
May 5, 2019: The Dodgers signed free agent Travis.
May 10, 2019: The Dodgers traded Travis to the Rays for cash.
Oct 31, 2019: Travis chose free agency.
- Nov 24, 2019: The Braves signed free agent Travis to a two-year, $16 million contract.
|Birth City:||Long Beach, CA|
|Draft:||Phillies #1 (suppl.) - 2007 - Out of high school (CA)|
d'Arnaud has good bat speed that enables him to hit the ball hard for line drives. He hits a lot of doubles and will increase his home run numbers every season as he matures as a hitter. He has only a little loft in his swing, but has power to the gaps.
And, with a short swing and an all-fields approach, d'Arnaud should hit for a solid average as well. He puts himself in a good position to hit by keeping the bat in the hitting zone for a long time, which equates to hitting for a good batting average.
Travis doesn't really have a natural righthanded stroke. He always seems to be looking for a way to be more comfortable at the plate. But he has quick, strong hands and stays inside the ball pretty well, driving it to all parts of the park. His swing gets a bit long on occasion, but usually is a compact stroke that allows him to use the whole field.
He has good feel for the barrel and willingly uses the middle of the field.
- d'Arnaud is a streak hitter. Some catchers, when they struggle at the plate, they take it back on the field with them. Travis never does that.
- In 2011, his improvement at the plate stemmed from calming down and not trying to hit everything out of the park.
- d'Arnaud doesn't walk much but makes consistent hard contact, getting hits even when his timing is off or he gets off balance.
In 2014, Travis got off to a poor start with the Mets and was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas for two weeks in June. After returning to the Mets, he hit .272 with 10 home runs in 69 games.
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Travis's career Major League stats were: .246 batting average, 63 home runs with 231 RBI and 415 hits in in 1,688 at-bats.
- May 21, 2020: Do you know your favorite team's best individual single-game hitting performance? From Hall of Famers to players who otherwise had obscure careers, there's a diverse list in that category. With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's the best game any one batter has had for each club.
RAYS: Travis d'Arnaud -- July 15, 2019 at Yankees
There’s likely some recency bias with this pick, but d’Arnaud’s three-homer game against the Yankees in 2019 was nothing short of remarkable -- and historic. The Rays have had five players hit three homers in a game, but the fact that d’Arnaud’s third homer was a dramatic three-run shot in the top of the ninth off Aroldis Chapman gives him the edge.
d’Arnaud led off the game with a homer, giving the Rays some much-needed confidence against a Yankees team that had their number all season long. Two innings later, d’Arnaud hit his second homer of the day, launching it almost to the same spot as the first blast. After drawing two walks in his next two at-bats, the stage was set for d'Arnaud to be the hero against Chapman, and the catcher delivered with a go-ahead three-run homer. It capped a 3-for-3 night with two walks and three homers. d’Arnaud also became the first catcher to hit three homers out of the leadoff spot and the first catcher to hit three home runs against the Yankees in a single game. -- Juan Toribio
D'Arnaud is a very good catcher with solid receiving skills. He has soft hands and moves around back there very well, impressing with his agility. He has quick feet and the agility to block balls in the dirt.
He is a solid receiver who moves well behind the plate, and he's a good leader who works well with his pitching staffs.
Travis has a very strong, very accurate arm. His glove-to-glove time to second base is a superb 1.9 seconds. And he has learned to get his body more behind his throws instead of only using his strong arm.
But d'Arnaud tends to stand up out of his crouch instead of exploding toward his target. He does not rush his throws as much as he did before the 2011 season.
And in 2012, he refined his footwork and throwing accuracy.
THROWING OUT BASE-STEALERS
In 2007, d'Arnaud threw out just 24 percent of Gulf Coast League runners.
In 2008, Travis only threw out 19 percent of base-stealers (and committed 16 passed balls).
In 2009, d'Arnaud caught just 23 percent of SAL base-thieves, but it was mostly the Lakewood pitching staff's fault.
In 2010, Travis nabbed 30 percent of Florida State League base-stealers.
In 2011, d'Arnaud threw out 27 percent of base-stealers in the Eastern League.
In 2012, Travis nabbed 30 percent of Pacific Coast League base-thieves.
In 2013, d'Arnaud gunned down 11 of 23 runners in the minors, and 5 of 24 in the Majors.
In 2014, Travis threw out only 19 percent of base-stealers, while also committing an NL-high 12 passed balls.
In 2015, d'Arnaud nailed 33%, 14 of 43 runners trying to steal.
In 2016, he threw out 17 of 78, which is 22% of base-thieves
In 2017, d'Arnaud caught only 11 of 66—just 17% of those who went.
- d'Arnaud is quick and athletic enough to play in the infield, but is such a good catcher it would be a shame to move him. He is an excellent receiver.
Travis handles the pitching staff well. You see him calling time out to go try to calm the pitcher down at appropriate times.
He's a leader. He knows it is important for him to be focused and positive and energetic, always paying attention to the game.
"All eight of the other players’ eyes are always on you and however you react, the way the catcher reacts is for the most part the way everyone else on the team is going to react," d'Arnaud said. "If you’re not paying attention, if you look down, everything in the game is going to go slower, everyone is going to be down, and everyone is not going to want to be there."
- He is a very good receiver with soft hands and excellent blocking skills. But his footwork can get him in trouble in both blocking balls in the dirt, and with the accuracy of his throws.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell was very impressed with d'Arnaud by the end of 2011 spring training.
"You've got a guy that can control the running game from the way he throws, and he's not afraid to lead a pitching staff," Farrell said. "In the early conversations between innings, or conversations early in camp, he shows a presence and is not afraid to speak his mind.
"Sometimes pitchers can be very blinded and have poor self evaluation, but he doesn't allow it, and that's a huge talent and a huge trait for a young guy to have and be willing to speak his mind regardless of who is pitching.
"I love the way he frames a pitch," said Farrell, who believes d'Arnaud is capable of earning an extra 8-10 strikes a game. "He's going to get a lot of borderline strikes at the bottom of the strike zone, because if you watch his receiving [his glove] ends up coming into the zone, but he makes it in such a way that it doesn't look like he's trying to steal a pitch that might turn some umpires off."
- During the 2011 season, New Hampshire manager Sal Fasano threw d'Arnaud flips almost every day, "so that I can work on receiving,” Travis said. “We do some transfer drills to make sure my throwing is right and then we do blocking drills to make sure my blocking is right—right before the game starts."
- Travis has a natural feel for the game and a high baseball IQ. And he prefers preventing runs over creating them.
“For me, it’s more exciting to call a shutout than to hit a home run,” he said. “It’s more exciting to make a play at the plate than getting a winning hit.”
He diligently works on his catching. He takes pride in his performance back there.
Every member of the Mets' pitching staff understands what it means to have a strong catcher behind the plate, and d'Arnaud's eagerness to develop into one has collectively impressed them. "He's just smooth back there," rookie Zack Wheeler said.
Some organizations now seek out catchers with excellent reputations for game-calling, like Mets catcher John Buck, while others still look for offensive-minded backstops. But d'Arnaud's most impressive skill, at least according to his pitching staff, may be the one gaining significant traction throughout advanced statistical circles: the art of receiving, including pitch framing.
The common thread, which multiple Mets pitchers referenced in talking about their catcher, is d'Arnaud's ability to make low pitches look like strikes. It is a skill that d'Arnaud believes he learned as a teenager, watching then-Dodgers catcher Russell Martin on television, then perfected in 2011 alongside Double-A New Hampshire manager and former big league catcher Sal Fasano.
"When I was younger, I pretty much tried catching just like [Martin]," d'Arnaud said. "I liked the way he caught that low pitch, so I just tried to catch like him."
Asked how he was able to do so, d'Arnaud laughed. "I can't give my secrets away," he said.
In today's game, those "secrets" are largely becoming well-known facts, thanks in large part to increased emphasis from coaching staffs and front offices. Mets bench coach Bob Geren, for example, keeps statistics on pitch framing that corroborate most anecdotal evidence. In a small sample, Geren's numbers on d'Arnaud are off the charts. Anecdotally, Wheeler and Gee both recalled being surprised in their most recent starts about how well d'Arnaud made their low pitches seem higher.
"When the balls are down, he does something that makes them look like they're strikes," Wheeler said. "It's ridiculous. I had a couple that I threw and I knew they were balls, but they looked like strikes after he framed them up."
Matt Harvey remembers being amazed during the All-Star Game at Yadier Molina's ability to frame pitches—something Harvey was able to notice in two short innings. "It's a big confidence booster as a pitcher," Harvey said. (DiComo - mlb.com - 8/22/2013)
Other abilities, Harvey said, such as game-calling prowess, will come in time for d'Arnaud. Gee admitted to shaking d'Arnaud off more often than he typically did with Buck. That's fine for now, Gee said.
Travis spends a lot of time with his pitchers between innings, allowing he and the pitcher to attack hitters with the exact same plan. That fluid communication solidifies his relationship with the pitchers.
He displays lots of wisdom. Travis says he learned a whole lot about catching from Sal Fasano, the longtime big league backup catcher. Back when d'Arnaud was with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he and fellow catcher Yan Gomes would pick Fasano's brain every day, learning the intricacies and the art of catching.
"I worked with him day in and day out, and it just started feeling natural," d'Arnaud said.
One of the first things Travis did upon learning he would play the infield on August 17, 2017, was text David Wright, the Mets' longtime third baseman. d'Arnaud requested permission to use Wright's glove. A few beats later, the injured Wright texted back. "Use it well," he wrote. "Dive for everything."
Ultimately, d'Arnaud faced no defensive challenges in the Mets' 5-3 loss to the Yankees at Citi Field, thanks in part to manager Terry Collins' manic plan to flop him and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera based on who was hitting. With righthanders at the plate, d'Arnaud manned second base, making him less susceptible to balls pulled down the line. With lefthanders batting, he shifted back to third.
Given those constraints, the ball did not find d'Arnaud until the ninth inning, when Todd Frazier hit a routine popup to second base.
"I thought it was really smart on Terry's part," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "d'Arnaud has never played the infield. I think they were trying to give him the least amount of chances as possible. He got one and he made it, but I thought it was really pretty brilliant."
It was, Collins admitted afterward, not something he came up with on the spot. As an infielder himself for the Pacific Coast League's Albuquerque Dukes in 1976, Collins said he switched back and forth between second and third to accommodate a fielder playing out of position.
A lifetime catcher, d'Arnaud was likewise beyond his comfort zone when the Mets asked him to play at third base, learning only two hours before the game that both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores were suffering from rib-cage strains. Not since spring 2017, when he logged an inning at first base, had d'Arnaud made a professional appearance in the infield. Though he takes ground balls from time to time, d'Arnaud had never played there in a Major League game.
"I was fired up," he said. "Doing whatever I can to help the team win, whatever they feel was necessary. It was fun. I wish we would have won, though."
All told, d'Arnaud and Cabrera switched positions 22 times, resulting in a box score smeared with ink. The official scoring read: 3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B, like some overcaffeinated Abbott and Costello skit.
"Fortunately, it worked out for us," Collins said. "That was all we had to work with today." (DiComo - mlb.com - 8/17/2017)
- Travis lacks speed. He runs like a catcher, though he doesn't clog the bases. He knows how to run the bases and is an intelligent baserunner.
April 2010: d'Arnaud was on the D.L. for over a month after he tweaked his back.
July 2010: Travis was on the D.L. with more back problems—a herniated disc in his lower back.
April 26-May 9, 2011: d'Arnaud was on the D.L. after suffering a concussion from two foul balls off his face mask.
October 2011: Travis underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He sustained the injury while playing for Team USA at the 2011 Baseball World Cup in Panama. He returned to Phoenix to undergo further examination, and his surgery was eventually performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan.
June 26, 2012: d'Arnaud was on the D.L. with a left knee injury suffered sliding into second base. He tore the posterior cruciate ligament, which does not require surgery but forced him to miss both the All-Star Futures Game and the Triple-A All-Star Game, and the rest of the 2012 season.
April 17-early July 2013: Travis suffered a broken left foot while playing for Triple-A Las Vegas. D'Arnaud suffered a nondisplaced fracture of the first metatarsal while attempting to catch a foul ball. The first metatarsal is the long bone in the foot. He was fitted with a walking boot.
May 14-29, 2014: d'Arnaud was on the 7-day concussion D.L. after being struck on the top of the head with Alfonso Soriano's backswing in the ninth inning, landing on the seven-day concussion disabled list. It was his third concussion.
October 1, 2014: Travis underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Tests showed no more serious damage to d'Arnaud's elbow, and the procedure shouldn't affect his offseason routine or his 2015 season.
April 19-June 10, 2015: d'Arnaud suffered a fractured right hand when he was hit by a pitch from the Marlins' A.J. Ramos.
June 21-July 31, 2015: D'Arnaud was placed on the DL with a left elbow injury.
April 26-June 21, 2016: The Mets placed d'Arnaud on the disabled list with a right rotator cuff strain. The move came one day after d'Arnaud left a game against the Reds with shoulder discomfort.
May 3-24, 2017: Travis was on the DL with a bruised right wrist.
April 11-Nov 2, 2018: The Mets placed d'Arnaud on the disabled list with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He missed the rest of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
- March 25-April 7, 2019: Travis was on the IL recovering from TJ surgery.