Even with the New York Mets being a continuous disappointment year after year, there’s still a reason to be optimistic going forward. A big reason for that optimism has to do with top-catching prospect Francisco Alvarez. The Mets, who have been notorious for departing with top prospects before they reach the majors, have made it clear Alvarez is off-limits. They believe this kid will be the franchise catcher for years to come, and for good reason. Today we will be going over Alvarez’s future with the Mets and what it could possibly bring.
Mets May Have a Franchise Catcher
Even though Francisco Alvarez has yet to even make it to Double-A, he is currently ranked as the 10th best prospect in all of baseball (according to MLB.com). Scouts have raved about Alvarez’s offensive prowess, praising his raw power and explosive swing. Splitting time between High-A and Single-A in 2021, Alvarez hit .272/.388/.544 with 24 home runs. Incredible production for a 19-year old!
The Mets, of course, haven’t had much firepower at the catching position recently. The last time a Mets catcher had an OPS+ of at least 100 was Wilson Ramos back in 2019. Travis d’Arnaud was the last Mets catcher to have an OPS of at least .800 and that was in 2015. Paul Lo Duca was the most recent Mets catcher to represent the team at the All-Star Game and that was in 2006! If Alvarez can continue that offensive production all the way through the minors and into the majors, he may be the best catcher for the Mets since Mike Piazza.
Alvarez still has some defensive deficiencies to improve on, including blocking and catching-and-throwing skills, but there’s no reason to believe that won’t improve. His arm strength is already considered to be a plus. The scouting grades given by MLB.com, ranked on a 20-80 scale, have Alvarez at 55 hitting, 60 power, 60 arm, and 55 fielding–all well-above-average that could potentially go even higher. A good player comparison for Francisco Alvarez is a prime Gary Sanchez.
Current Mets Catching Situation
Even though Francisco Alvarez is such an intriguing prospect for Mets fans, he is still at least 1-2 years away. That brings up an interesting question for this offseason: What should the Mets do with James McCann?
After years of catching ineptitude, the Mets gave McCann a four-year contract last offseason hoping he would be the solution. Unfortunately, McCann has been nothing short of disappointing. The multi-year contract they gave him looks like a complete disaster, with McCann being a total negative both offensively and defensively. A .229/.292/.346 slash line with -5 DRS does not leave much to be desired. The only positive asset he brings to the team is his ability to throw out runners.
Some may say McCann’s rough 2021 will turn into a bounce-back 2022, but there’s no real reason to believe that will happen. Other than a solid 2019 and a 31-game stretch in 2020, McCann really hasn’t been that good in his career. From 2015-18, he put up a slash line of .240/.288/.366, which looks very similar to this season. Maybe he used the 2020 season to his advantage for a new contract. It will be very difficult for the Mets to trade McCann after this season, but don’t be surprised if you see reports of them trying to ship him.
What the Future at Catcher Should Be
While many think the Mets should find a 2022 catching solution outside the organization, the solution is actually internally. All the Mets have to do for 2022 is make Tomas Nido the everyday catcher. While Nido is just as bad as McCann when it comes to offense, his defense is miles better. Nido, in only 365.2 innings, had 10 DRS all while being an elite framer. We all know you can sacrifice defense for offense at catcher any day of the week.
McCann hasn’t produced offensively like us fans wanted, so start the better defender. Nido should start for the Mets at catcher in 2022, with McCann taking a back seat. 2022 should be seen as a transition year to Alvarez. By the time 2023 rolls along, Alvarez should have full possession of the starting catcher role. Let’s hope he lives up to the expectations.