INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Less than a week after the Mets outrighted catcher Mike Nickeas to Triple-A Las Vegas and Nickeas subsequently elected free agency, the Mets brought him back on a Minor League deal.
Nickeas, 29, will report to big league camp in February, giving the Mets a measure of catching flexibility as they continue to seek a more offensive-minded complement for starter Josh Thole.
Breaking camp with the Mets last spring, Nickeas struggled at the plate, hitting .174 with one home run and 13 RBIs in 47 games. The Mets eventually demoted him to Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .364 with one homer and six RBIs in 22 games.
The Mets do value Nickeas' receiving and game-calling abilities, as well as his history with starting pitcher Matt Harvey -- the two trained together in the Atlanta area last offseason. And if the Mets retain knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Nickeas is yet another backstop capable of catching him.
But the club is also in desperate need of offense behind the plate. With Thole likely to return after negotiating a new deal through arbitration, the Mets would like to find a right-handed-hitting catcher to pair with him, perhaps in a platoon situation.
Thole, a lefty, hit just .211 against left-handed pitchers last season, with a .259 on-base percentage.