Czech Republic catcher Martin Červenka has signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets. Currently in the Czech Republic, the 28-year-old catcher will have a few days to make arrangements before he is expected to report to the club’s minor league spring training site on March 29th.
Červenka was released by the Baltimore Orioles at the end of the 2020 season, and had interest from a number of major league clubs in the off-season, but the Mets expressed the most interest in the free agent and also assisted with the logistics of travelling to the US amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was speaking to more organizations, but the problem was with travels from Europe to the USA now during the pandemic,” the Kotlářka Praha product said. “The Mets were so interested that they helped me with MLB and with my travel issues.”
As mister-baseball.com reported in January 2009, Červenka originally signed with the Cleveland Indians after coming up through the ranks at Kotlářka . He made it to High-A with the Indians organization, slashing a respectable .278/.343/.418 in 400 at-bats with Lynchburg in 2017. He joined the Orioles the following season and advanced as far as Triple-A in 2019 before being released.
After the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, Červenka returned to the Czech Republic and trained with his brother Marek, a former national team pitcher. “We were throwing and hitting together. I also built a small gym in my house to stay in shape,” noted Červenka, describing his preparations for the 2021 season.
Červenka’s availability for the 2021 European Championship is in question at the moment as the tournament, scheduled for Sept. 12-19 at three sites in and around Turin, Italy, clashes with the minor league schedule. The Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Mets, will wrap up its 2021 regular season on Sept. 19, the same day that Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies conclude play. Červenka was a key piece of the Czech national team that went 5-3 at the 2019 Euros. Hitting exclusively in the third spot, he collected a base hit in each of the eight games, and 10 altogether, including two home runs.
At this point, it is unclear with which club in the Mets’ high minors that Červenka might land. The New York Nationals currently have three backstops on the 40-man roster and another six non-roster invitees beyond its latest edition. Three of those have major league experience, suggesting a Double-A placement. Any professional contract, however, is a boon for Červenka and Czech baseball. We will have more when our coverage of Europeans in the Majors and Minors returns.
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