April 7: As expected, the Mets have announced that Narváez has been placed on the IL with Álvarez recalled to take his place.
April 6: The Mets announced that catcher Omar Narváez has been diagnosed with a “medium to high-grade” strain of his left calf and will be placed on the injured list. They listed the typical return to play timeline for the injury as 8-9 weeks. It had been reported earlier that catching prospect Francisco Álvarez was joining the team in case Narváez needed to go on the IL, so that now seems likely to follow. No official announcement on Álvarez has been made yet and might not come until tomorrow, since today’s home opener was postponed to tomorrow by inclement weather.
Narváez, 31, had a reputation as a bat-first catcher earlier in his career but that changed in Milwaukee. After a few seasons with the White Sox and Mariners, he had a mark of -41 Defensive Runs Saved at the end of the 2019 campaign. He joined the Brewers going into 2020 and has been much better since, actually posting a +7 DRS from 2020 to 2022. That focus on glovework coincided with a decline at the plate, as he hit .233/.318/.350 for an 85 wRC+ with the Brewers after slashing .276/.361/.411 for a 113 wRC+ previously.
The Mets decided they needed to make a change behind the plate for 2023. Their four-year deal with James McCann had gone quite poorly in the first two seasons and they decided to shake things up. They signed Narváez to a two-year, $15MM and flipped McCann to the Orioles, eating most of the money to facilitate the deal. The plan was for Narváez and Tomás Nido to handle the catching duties at the big league level with Álvarez continuing his development in the minors.
This injury deals a significant blow to that plan, as Narváez will now be out of action for a couple of months. Given the estimated timeline, he should be able to return in June. But in the meantime, the Mets will be paying a lot of money to two catchers not on the roster. Narváez is making $8MM this year while the club is still on the hook for $19MM of the $24MM owed to McCann for this year and next. That doesn’t even include the taxes the club will pay by shooting past the top tier of the Competitive Balance Tax.
Leaving the financials aside, it’s entirely possible that the on-field impact to the club is minimal in the short-term. Álvarez is generally considered one of the top prospects in the league and already made his major league debut last year. Prospect evaluators generally consider his bat to be ready for the majors already, which isn’t surprising given his results in the minors last year. Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit 27 home runs in 112 games and drew walks at a healthy 14.1% rate. His .260/.374/.511 combined batting line led to a 136 wRC+ and a five-game cameo in the big leagues.
The Mets optioned him to the minors to start the season, relying on Nido and Narváez to handle the catching duties in the bigs. Despite his clear abilities at the plate, Álvarez is considered a work in progress defensively and is just 21 years old. Though the Mets might have wanted him to get more time in the minors, it seems the next stage of his development will be taking place at the major league level.
How the club divvies up the playing time remains to be seen, but it might help that Nido is considered more of a defensive specialist. He’s hit just .217/.254/.319 in his career for a wRC+ of 60 but has a +18 DRS. It’s possible that he gets more of the work behind the plate while Álvarez spends some time as the designated hitter. The DH slot has been a rotating platoon so far, with Daniel Vogelbach the left-handed hitting option while Tommy Pham and Mark Canha hit from the right side. Álvarez is a righty and could perhaps jump into that mix with Canha and Pham. Given his position as the perceived catcher of the future, his long-term development will still be important, but he might be able to help the club in the short term with his obvious offensive abilities.
On the personal side of things, today’s news could potentially have implications for both Narváez and Álvarez. The former has the ability to opt out of his contract at the end of this year, walking away from the $7MM he’d otherwise be owed in 2024. His decision could be swayed by his recuperation and how he fares once he’s healthy. For Álvarez, he came into the season with just six days of MLB service time, meaning that just a few weeks in the minors would have prevented him from getting to the one-year mark here in 2023. Now that he seems slated for a quick recall, that could now change. The season in 187 days long but a player only needs to spend 172 days in the big leagues or on the IL in order to bank a full year, which is now a possibility for Álvarez if he can retain his roster spot the rest of the way. That means that arbitration after 2025 and free agency after 2028 are still on the table for him, though future optional assignments could push those timelines by a year.
This signing never made sense why sign another 2 year catcher just give Alvarez a chance and have nido/another fall back defense guy if it doesn’t work
Nothing wrong with having depth
With a 2 year deal though? For a guy with a sub .600 OPS for 2 of the last 3 years and was awful defensively till recently. I assume Alvarez must be close if they called him up last year. Now 2024 they’re paying 18 million for 2 backup catchers in Narvaez and McCann.
They probably hoped he’d opt out after the first year.
The only way Narvaez was ever opting out is if he put up 2019 type numberw or better and that looks more and more like just his “career year”. If Alvarez comes up and rakes the Mets are back in the McCann situation all over again
It’s probably because you always need catching depth. Injuries are common because it’s a tough position. On top of that, they needed Alvarez to get a lot more reps at catcher in the minors. Looks like that part might not happen now. I would imagine they’ll roll with Nido and Alvarez sort of splitting time, with Alvarez playing DH against lefties.
How quickly it went from wait and see to 8-9 weeks. Lol Mets
I’m trying to figure out how a strain can be a 9 week injury. A tear, sure, or a sprain, but that must be one heck of a strain.
Sprains and strains are the same thing, just different body parts. Sprains are to ligaments (ie ankle), strains are to muscles
He’s a catcher.
Just remember Eppler is a Cashman disciple.
Buck isn’t going to like this. He’s going to have to play an unproven under 30 rookie. My guess is Nido plays 80% of the time while Alvarez rots on the bench playing 1-2 times a week.
Maybe you can give him pointers on being a successful manager. Obviously you know more than he does.
It’s an interesting situation to monitor. Nido is a locker room favorite, no? And a solid catcher? Meanwhile, the kid needs at bats, and this isn’t really a team that’s going to provide many DH opportunities.
Buck will have no problem putting him in there
C Yards Jeff
In the early 2010s Buck used a 19 year old Machado and a 21 yr old Schoop. They pretty much ended up being the Orioles double play combo for that 5 year run when the Os had the winningest record in the MLB from 2012 to 16.
This, Buck was the manager in New York that made Bernie Williams an everyday player (heck, even Pat Kelly and Gerald Williams got lots of AB’s under Buck) and the manager in Texas when Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock and Ian Kinsler all broke into the big leagues.
Gave Narvaez a 2024 player option for $7M too…
Cohen spent money just to spend money. There was zero analysis on his part before some of these signings. The ridiculous contracts for Nimmo and Díaz, signing Omar when the best catching prospect in the game is ready to go? Building a rotation around two 40 year old arms and a guy who’s never pitched in America? Very risky.
To me, the Mets had an awful offseason compared to other teams in the league. A good offseason doesn’t correlate to most money spent. This team was built like a 13 year old would on MLB the show.
Mets will most likely finish 3rd and won’t make the playoffs. Braves are just insane, Phillies will put it together, and the Marlins are no team anymore either.
*no easy team anymore either.
I don’t necessarily disagree with any singular point you’ve just made. For the most part, I echo your sentiment.
However, I still think they could win the World Series; and I’d rather have an owner frivolously throw money around (on a team that was already great last year), and put the onus on management to balance the roster properly, than an owner that is too cheap to make substantial additions. If something doesn’t work out, you can always make a couple deals (as most good teams do) throughout the year to consolidate and specifically address needs.
@Milwaukee-2208 I’ve been saying exactly this since January. People on this site told me “You never have anything nice to say about the Mets” or “Yeah your wrong”. I guess I’m not so crazy after all. Honestly, their biggest mistake was hiring Eppler last year. He had an open checkbook with the Angels and never made the playoffs once. Its obvious he doesnt have a clue
You’re wrong (not your). I’m pretty sure the Mets won 101 games last year. I think you’re hysterical, claiming to be “right” after 7 games. If you are so positive they are terrible, you can make a fortune betting all you have on the under for 94.5 wins? Relax dude, enjoy the season, they will win about 95 games and make the playoffs.
@mookie1 the under was very tempting this year but I don’t bet agaisnt my own teams. Why would I bet on them to lose when I want them to win, makes no sense for me to go agaisnt my morals
If that under is still at 95 wins ….. I am gonna be all over that. This is a .500 team at best.
So your analysis is that the Mets are trash but somehow, for no reasons you apparently care to explain, the Phillies will “put it together” and pass them, despite the Phillies looking even worse than the Mets have so far.
Also, you don’t have a clue if you’re saying that Alvarez is “ready to go”. He needs a ton of work defensively. In a perfect world, he would have spent half the season in the minors at a minimum.
Bang up analysis that sounds completely unbiased and undriven by irrational hatred.
@rct I never said anything about the Phillies, you brought them up. The Phillies are a much better team then the Mets regardless. Relief staff is pretty much the same, pitching is pretty much the same, but what you fail to realize is that the Phillies’s offense is 3 times better than the Mets. Once the Phillies are at full strength, a lineup of Trea Turner, Harper, Schwarber, Castellanos, Bohm, and Hoskins completely outclasses the Mets lineup. Other than Alonso, McNeil, and the often injured Marte, no one else on the Mets is a feared hitter. Lindor’s hitting is wayyyyyyy overrated, never clutch, and Nimmo just walks. Anyone with eyes can see this.
Full strength and you includes Hoskins – Rhys may never play for Phils again in rest of his career.
A 2 month strain? The calf will practically be a grown cow by then.
Mmmmmm, veal parmigiana…
So what’s your beef?
Stop milking this joke for all it’s worth…
Sid Bream Speed Demon
Cohen has so much at steak. Moo-ve the team!
Different owner, same outcome. Mets are gonna Mets…
Mets gonna Mets…
Us Mets fan should be seeing this as a positive development. It forces them to liven up their roster with some young guys that project to be better offensively than the guys they currently have taking up space. If they want Alvarez to develop he’s gonna have to play, they have no choice. Once Baty’s thumb heals up, it won’t be long before he’s up to replace Escobar too , and quite frankly Vientos should already be on the team as a DH option. The team will be much better off with these guys playing than wasting our time hovering around .500 for a few months with retreads. Yes there’ll be some growing pains but I don’t think this roster was going very far as constituted to begin with. Anybody with eyes sees the Mets offense needs a jolt. Now if only they had some more young pitching to call up.
Great opportunity for Alvarez. We’ll see if he can rise to the challenge.
The problem of this team stems from Steve Cohen’s trust in Sandy Alderson. Alderson had advised Steve Cohen to hire Billy Eppler. Nimmo, an Alderson favorite, got his big overpay contract. What has Alderson ever done for the Mets? Most of his signings were terrible throughout his tenure. The Mets made the playoffs twice in around 8-10 under this guy. He and Eppler are the same, they both don’t have a clue
I agree. Outside of the RA Dickey trade and the Cespedes trade that he only made out of desperation, Sandy had a very underwhelming tenure as Mets GM. He’s also the genius that oversaw Daniel Murphy and Zack Wheeler leaving the roster to join our divisional foes. I don’t want to judge Billy Eppler too harshly just yet, but it seems like his MO with the Angels was basically just to run in place, and it seems like that’s his preference for the Mets as well. seems like Mets GMs only make good decisions by accident or when they’re necessitated by outside factors like injuries or failed medicals.
Alderson took over a disastrous organization and built them into a World Series contender in short time. And spare us the revisionist history on Murphy and Wheeler because the conventional wisdom and consensus opinion at the time of their departures was that the Nats and Phillies overpaid (feel free to check the MLBTR articles from back then, too). Neither player was more than average prior to leaving the Mets, with only good (and in Murphy’s playoff case, great) stretch runs.
Just another uninformed Mets hater without a clue. I swear you’re multiplying.
I’m a Mets fan, not a Mets hater. I know absolutely no one who thinks that the Daniel Murphy trade was an overpay. I’m talking the real world of people I know, maybe I wasn’t paying attention to this website back then. Also, Zack wheeler was far from an overpay. He actually took less than he was worth to stay on the East Coast, which the Mets should have taken advantage of because his wife is from New Jersey and wanted to stay around here. That was conventional wisdom as I remember it. I don’t mean to hate on Sandy because I think he’s a nice guy, but I honestly was never really a fan of his. I hate the moneyball philosophy and the crappy brand of baseball it produces, which baseball is finally trying to get rid of.
Excuse me, the Daniel Murphy “deal”.
that being said, he did make a lot of the right moves leading up to that World Series team. I must give him credit for that. I already gave him credit for the Dicky trade. He also chose Lucas Duda over Ike Davis, which was the right move obviously. And he did pull the trigger on the Cespedes trade. Bravo Sandy
(Fun fact: My name is actually a nod to Sandy Alderson and the mixed feelings I have about him as a GM. Don’t think too hard about it, I didn’t).
Nimmo has suffered a major injury every other season since 2017. Totally absurd contract.
It’s just a good thing Cohen is a billionaire and doesn’t have to concern himself with concepts such as walk years, or getting pennies on the dollar.
8-9 weeks sounds like it could become a 60-day IL transfer if they need to add someone else to the 40-man. If it’s not for another catcher, it could be for Dylan Bundy for rotation support.
Things quickly spiraling downward in Flushing.
How his baby cow got out onto the field long enough to suffer a strain has not yet been revealed.
Isn’t Parada the catcher of the future in NY? Or is he just a Joey Bart 2.0?
Seems like the Mets need better medical staff. A lot of guys hurt here
Wasn’t he the cartel leader in Ozark?
For all New York Mets fans that were happy to see both James McCann trade to Baltimore and Jason D sign with Texas Rangers. I wonder what they are saying now.
Can not wait to hear and read that manager and general manager are fighting between each other.
In mean time the Atlanta Braves keep on winning
METS are a MEsS. I don’t think that Alvarez will amount to much.
MLB #1 Prospect Alvarez isn’t in the starting lineup today. Batting 9th and catching is World Beater Tomas Nido. Can’t make this stuff up. It gets worse with Escobar playing 3B and hitting 8th. Batters 6-9 my lord.
You’re getting on the team for playing the veteran over the rookie who just got off the plane? And it was the home opener? How about a bit less trolling, little fella.
He really needs to see Passion Flower Shirely the Yokohama Butterfly for a massage