HomeTeamsMetsHow Will The Mets Survive 2 Months Without Francisco Alvarez

How Will The Mets Survive 2 Months Without Francisco Alvarez

The Met vibes are uber-positive these days even with a 10-0 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday that capped a Met series win, their 5th straight series win. Going into Sunday’s game in which the Mets started Adrian Houser vs. Tyler Glasnow, expectations were understandably low. Sweeping the Dodgers in Los Angeles is almost unthinkable, and Glasnow has roared back from injury to be the Dodgers #1 starter. Houser was awful, Glasnow was great, and the Dodgers were due. All of that happened but that did little to dampen the Mets overall good vibrations as they headed up to San Francisco following Sunday afternoon’s game.

The bigger news that came out Sunday is that starting catcher Francisco Alvarez will have surgery on his left thumb and will be out six to eight weeks. Six weeks from now is early June and eight weeks mid-June. Thumb injuries for baseball players are particularly troublesome. The injury is to Alvarez’ left thumb but right -handed batters anchor their grip with their left hand on the bottom of the bat.  Jeff McNeil and Brett Baty have both suffered thumb injuries while being members of the Mets and while the injuries don’t mirror the one to Alvarez, it took time for them to feel as if their injured thumbs were no longer a factor when swinging the bat.

If Alvarez’ rehab takes a bit longer than the projected is six to eight weeks, the time frame approaches the 2024 All-Star game in July, at which point the Mets might decide to wait until after the All-Star break to reactivate Alvarez. There’s no way to know for sure right now but ignoring the possibility is not an option but might have to be the result.

Omar Narvaez in his 9th season is a capable backup MLB catcher. He’s a .254 career hitter with a little pop. In his now nine-year career, he’s played in more than 100 games twice. While Narvaez looks a bit better at the plate than he did in 2023, his OPS+ of 44 for this season (his career OPS+ is 97 slightly below average) and inability to throw out runners attempting to steal, makes him a candidate to play once or twice a week. Not five or six times. To replace Alvarez the Mets immediately brought back Tomas Nido, another career backup, since Nido is familiar with the Mets pitchers, organization and is a well-known quantity even if the Mets released him after last season thinking they might be done with Nido. He was signed as an insurance policy which for the moment appears to have been a good idea.

You are maybe wondering, what about young catcher Kevin Parada? He was a top draft choice in 2022 getting a $5M contract even after the Mets had Alvarez in the organization. Parada is playing for the AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies and in watching him on Sunday vs. The Reading Phitin’ Phils, (SNY carried the Ponies game from chilly 44-degree Binghamton). Parada looked good at and behind the plate, but AA ball is far from MLB, and Parada is hitting .211 with a .706 OPS.  As tempting as it might be given the circumstances, Parada appears not to be ready in the eyes of the Mets, to be a major-leaguer.

It’s tempting to think of bringing Parada up for many reasons. Most important is that the Mets options for bringing in a serviceable MLB catcher from outside the organization are limited, as they are for all MLB teams. The pickin’s are slim and few. This is why Tomas Nido again is a Met. Parada who appears to be blocked by Francisco Alvarez for the next six years or more, (providing Alvarez signs an extension which seems more likely than not), is still an intriguing prospect and giving him a one-week taste of MLB would be interesting for him to experience, and it even could work out better than anticipated as maybe he could hold the fort until Alvarez returns.

On the other hand, if Parada comes up to the Mets and struggles on one or both sides, (offensively and defensively), he may simply need more seasoning, or might be further devalued since long-term he’s probably not going to play catcher for the Mets and remains more of a future trade prospect than a long-term insurance policy. 

POBO David Stearns knows this and knows Narvaez better than most since the left-handed hitting catcher was with the Brewers during Stearns’ tenure. The Mets now on a 12-4 run and feeling groovy, they believe they have a chance to surprise in the National League. The pitching overall has been solid. The Mets have gotten more out of Harrison Bader than even they themselves expected so far. 3B Brett Baty has improved. Starling Marte looks liked you hoped he would in returning from injury. Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil are coming around slowly. Losing Francisco Alvarez’ presence in the lineup is a big blow. Maintaining the status quo with Narvaez and Nido at catcher for the next two months will be hard to accept.

What should the Mets do? Stick with Narvaez and Nido? Bring up Parada? Pick up a scrap-heap catcher off the free agent wire? There’s risk involved in all options, and it will be an early test of Stearns’ ability to run the team. 

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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