Mets Effectively Announce Francisco Álvarez Not Ready
The New York Mets shocked everyone when they signed catcher Omar Narváez to a one year $7 million deal with an option for 2024. At the time of this signing, it did seem the Mets were trying to remove catchers from the equation rather than add to it.
On that front, MMN‘s own Michael Mayer reported the Mets have been aggressively shopping James McCann. With that in mind, this would seem all the more likely McCann will not be a Met in 2023. However, most Mets fans had just naturally assumed trading McCann would mean the organization was ready to hand the job over to Francisco Álvarez.
Signing Narváez puts an end to the Mets fans hopes of seeing Álvarez on the Opening Day roster. Between Narváez and Tomás Nido, the Mets are now set at the catcher position with two elite pitch framers. Barring injuries, that would mean Álvarez’s lone path to the Opening Day roster is as a part-time catcher and platoon DH partner to Daniel Vogelbach.
Right off the bat, we can dismiss that path. Álvarez is still just 20 years old and is regarded as the top prospect in the game. Yes, he was a late September call-up and made the postseason roster, but that was for a short time to address a need for a team with World Series aspirations. Come Spring Training, the emphasis is back on player development for Álvarez.
In terms of Álvarez’s development, it is important to note he only played 45 games in Triple-A last season. He would only catch in 33 of those games due to an ankle injury which nearly cost him the final month of the season.
Looking deeper, Álvarez has never caught more than 79 games in a season. For the sake of comparison J.T. Realmuto, the type of catcher the Mets hope Álvarez will one day be, routinely catches over 125 games a season, and he has twice caught over 130 games. Simply put, Álvarez needs to build endurance to be able to withstand that type of a workload at the Major League level.
Álvarez also still needs work behind the plate. In an all too small a sample size, Baseball Savant noted he had a very poor 42.9% called strike rate. That would rank him amongst the worst in the majors last season. Again, keep in mind the sample size. That said, Álvarez still has to develop his skills behind the plate for the Mets to trust him over a full 162 game season.
That’s exactly the point with the Narváez signing. The Mets know Álvarez still needs to develop, but with every swing he is closer and closer to the majors. That is why the Mets signed Narváez to a short-term deal. It allows Álvarez to develop like he needs to develop, and it creates a clear path for Álvarez to be the Mets starting catcher as soon as he is ready.
EDITORS NOTE: This post first appeared on MMN