When it comes to the Mets’ catching situation, the team’s pitching staff and fans seem aligned on a key point: Francisco Alvarez shouldn’t go anywhere.
“He should stay,” says one veteran pitcher.
“Guys love him,” said another member of the staff. “He cares so much.”
The discussion over whether the Mets will option Alvarez to Triple-A once catching the tandem of Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido return from the injured list is occurring prematurely (kinda my fault), and will likely be settled organically by health and performance over the next several weeks. Roster crunches often resolve themselves.
Having said that, there is a sentiment among many on the veteran pitching staff that Alvarez should stay. Without wanting to appear to disparage other teammates in public, these vets say they like throwing to Alvarez and do not want the Mets to send him down.
Alvarez’s framing skills and arm have always been strong. When he arrived in the big leagues last month, however, there was a feeling in the clubhouse that his game-calling and work with pitchers still needed improvement.
Over the past few weeks, pitchers have been extremely impressed by his rapid progress. One pitcher suggested that if the team chooses Alvarez, the staff will be angry.
Still, it will be a tricky spot for the front office. Narvaez is assured of a spot on the team. Gary Sanchez’s reputation as a defender is mixed at best. Nido is highly regarded as a defender but is by far the weakest offensive performer of the group.
The Mets could proceed with Narvaez and Alvarez as the catching tandem and Sanchez as a righthanded-hitting DH/bench bat instead of Mark Vientos — though that assumes that Sanchez is still an MLB-caliber hitter. The Mets will find out, along with the rest of us, if that is the case.
Nido signed a two-year contract last offseason. He is on the IL after having a vision issue corrected, and his timetable to return is unclear. Narvaez is expected back in 2-3 weeks.
The easiest roster move is to option the rookie Alvarez. But, as it turns out, that is a move that would not go over well in the clubhouse.