The New York Mets have a future superstar on their hands. Francisco Alvarez, the teams top prospect, is going to be an absolute superstar at a premium position. The Mets have not had a star behind the plate since Mike Piazza and haven't really had a consistent starting level catcher since Piazza also.
For years the catching position has been a question mark. The Mets thought they solved this problem when they acquired Travis d'Arnaud in the R.A. Dickey trade, but that never stuck. Former first round pick Kevin Plawecki never turned out to be much of anything either.
The Mets signed James McCann to a four-year $40 million dollar deal but that has been disastrous after a year and a couple of weeks.
With all of the turmoil at the catcher position, the Mets have their answer behind the plate. And that answer can come up at some point this season.
The Mets are currently 14-6 and sit in first place in the National League East. They have won all six series they have played and look to be legitimately good. They have done this without their best player and the best pitcher on the planet in Jacob deGrom.
Despite the hot start, the Mets still have a very significant hole. Their catchers, despite looking better on this past road trip, just haven't hit. McCann has slashed .194/.286/.333 with one home run and five RBI. Tomas Nido has slashed .214/.207/.250 with no home runs and four RBI. Both McCann and Nido hit ninth consistently, even in lineups that include guys like Luis Guillorme and Travis Jankowski.
While McCann and Nido are solid to excellent defensively, the fact that they cannot hit is a problem. McCann had a 77 OPS+ last season while Nido had a 61 OPS+. The Mets lineup should be good enough to sustain their lackluster bats, but it's unnecessary. Especially if they have someone ready waiting in the wings.
If the Mets are competing for a playoff spot, Francisco Alvarez can provide a boost. Despite only being 20 years old, the youngest player in the Eastern League, Alvarez has slashed .296/.373/.705 with four home runs and 13 RBI. He's posted a .183 WRC+ through 12 games.
The sample is small, but Alvarez is clearly already making a push towards AAA. He's tearing the cover off of the ball and appears to be just getting started.
Do I expect Alvarez to make it to the bigs this season? No. He's quite young and the Mets are already paying James McCann for the next two seasons after this one. But, if the Mets need a spark, it's definitely possible. If Alvarez keeps hitting and the Mets are making a postseason push, Alvarez can really help. He has impact bat potential.
While I don't expect him to be on the team this season, I would be shocked if he's not the Opening Day catcher next season. Alvarez appears ready to roll, and keeps on proving it in the minors. It's only a matter of time until the tenth-ranked prospect according to MLB.com makes his debut. They say his ETA is 2023, I'd agree with that.