It looked good on paper. The New York Mets dumped James McCann onto the Baltimore Orioles and brought in free agent Omar Narvaez to stabilize the catcher position for a year before transitioning to Francisco Alvarez.
The plan on paper didn’t go accordingly. Narvaez got hurt in April and Alvarez was immediately called up to replace him. It didn’t take long for Alvarez to win the full-time gig over Tomas Nido and by the time Narvaez had returned we already got a few sips of Gary Sanchez.
Narvaez could have very well become one of those one-and-done Mets players we forget all about. The $8 million he gets paid in 2023 was a bit much for a guy who hit .206 last year without much power in a half season. Narvaez has had a very up and down career and unfortunately the Mets caught one of the downs.
The NY Mets contract with Omar Narvaez is only a pain because of the 2024 player option
From the start, the big question about Narvaez’s contract was the 2024 player option. By then, we all assumed Alvarez would have the starting catcher job. It appears that among all of the planning the Mets made with the position, this is one truth that’ll come to be.
Narvaez is set to make another $7 million next year if he chooses to opt in. Why wouldn’t he? Until 2023, Narvaez never had a year of earning more than $5 million—an amount he got paid in 2022 by the Milwaukee Brewers to underperform.
When it comes to money, a $7 million deal for a backup catcher isn’t going to hold back the Mets. Consider this money as part of the investment in all of the catchers. While Alvarez continues to make the league minimum, the Mets can get by having to pay their backup a whole lot more than his numbers suggest he deserves.
Narvaez hasn’t been anything special defensively, but he also hasn’t been a complete waste of a roster spot. He actually is about what you’d want from the backup at a price tag significantly higher.
What the Mets can salvage from this failed free agent signing is anything positive the 8-year veteran can pass along to Alvarez. As much as Nido could do this same work for a fraction of the cost, something about having a fellow Venezuelan native can make the experience more relatable. Narvaez has also started in the big leagues for three other teams and seen all kinds of results.
Narvaez will be lucky to finish the season hitting over .200 and it’s something most of us have accepted. He’s a near afterthought on a team where player salaries have become meaningless.
As poor of a signing as he has become, the pain is only minor. He’s barely a flesh wound on a 2023 Mets squad with much bigger fatal wounds.