Before the Mets took the field on Wednesday to face the Houston Astros, some roster moves were made. One of them involved top prospect Francisco Alvarez, who was officially optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to start the regular season.
This isn’t surprising for a couple of reasons. The Mets traded James McCann this winter, but not before signing Omar Narvaez. New York’s plan has been to pair him with Tomas Nido as a tandem catching duo. Alvarez could’ve made things hard on the organization if he lit the world on fire at the dish during spring training. You know, kind of like what third baseman Brett Baty has done.
He didn’t do that. In 28 Grapefruit League at-bats, Alvarez slashed .107/.194/.107 with one RBI, two walks, and 10 strikeouts. But of course, starting the year in Triple-A doesn’t mean he’ll spend the majority of his season there, right?
According to manager Buck Showalter, it sounds like the Mets see that as an ideal situation. When asked if he could see Alvarez in Syracuse for the entire minor-league season, he said the following (via SNY):
I hope so, in some ways. That means that we’re doing real well and our catchers are healthy and doing well. I hope that’s the case. He’s got a chance to be called up in September.
Anything else I said would be promoting the failure or the health of one of the guys that we have. And we like our two guys. They’re in the top seven or eight of catching in baseball. We’re lucky to have both of them. I hope at some point Francisco is as good as they are.
As usual, this is a calculated move by Buck. The Mets have said many times that they want Alvarez to become the “total package” and work on his defense more. They want him to be a long-term answer for the organization. It’s not helpful for his development if he’s going back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues. When they think he’s ready, they want him to land in Flushing and stay there.
Then, of course, these comments are a vote of confidence for Narvaez and Nido. New York is heading into Opening Day with visions of a deep postseason run. With a completely revamped pitching staff, these guys don’t need to be constantly looking over their shoulders every time something happens.
Buck also deferred to general manager Billy Eppler about using Alvarez as a designated hitter if the Mets eventually need some help. However, he did say that “everything is on the table” when you’re trying to win like the Amazins are.
If things go how the Mets want them to go, the earliest we’ll see Francisco Alvarez in the big leagues again is in September. But as we’ve seen over the past week or so, the best-laid plans don’t always work out. So, we’ll see what happens when games start counting again next week.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.