2023 expectations for Francisco Alvarez

Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game One
Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game One / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The New York Mets had a great season overall in 2022. They won 101 games and returned to the postseason, ultimately losing to the San Diego Padres in the National League Wild Card series.

However, 2022 showcased the Mets’ major weakness throughout the year, and that was the catching position. James McCann and Tomas Nido, as a tandem, were one of the worst catching duos in the majors last year from an offensive standpoint.

When McCann first signed his four-year deal, the expectation was that he would hold down the position until highly touted prospect Francisco Alvarez was ready for the big leagues. However, McCann has simply not gotten the job done. Although he has played well defensively, McCann’s offense has largely disappeared over his two seasons with the Mets. Despite batting .273 with the Chicago White Sox in the year before he joined the Mets, McCann has contributed a .220/.282/.328 batting line with the Mets. There is little optimism that he can turn it around over the next couple seasons left on his contract.

Francisco Alvarez could be the Mets starting catcher in 2023

Although one of my colleagues wrote a good piece about why McCann still has value for the Mets and what he can offer next season, the days of McCann being the Mets’ primary catcher are probably over. At this point in McCann's career, he is best served as a platoon catcher, splitting the time with another catcher whose offensive strengths make up for McCann’s offensive deficiencies.

That player is Francisco Alvarez. Therefore, Alvarez’s timeline of being a big league contributor for the Mets has accelerated. He got his first taste of the major leagues in 2022, largely in part because of injuries and the team’s need for a right-handed designated hitter option that could complement mid-season acquisition Daniel Vogelbach. Over the 12 at-bats Alvarez had in the major leagues this season, he went 2 for 12 with one home run. While those aren’t gaudy statistics, Alvarez’s sample size was small, so the Mets are not going to look too closely at them.

Alvarez’s minor league numbers indicate that he may be ready for the big leagues. Over Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, Alvarez played fairly well, compiling a .260/.374/.511 batting line with 27 home runs over 112 games.

It is possible that Alvarez still starts the 2023 season in the minors. However, given the lack of production the Mets have seen from the catcher position, it is likely that Alvarez will receive an extended look in Spring Training and an opportunity to earn a major league roster spot.

Next. 3 potential James McCann trade destinations. dark