Future star of the New York Mets, Francisco Alvarez, is the top prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. He came up to try and provide an offensive spark at the end of last season and had two hits in 12 at-bats including a monstrous home run in a game against the Washington Nationals.
Alvarez was thought of as a lock by many to be on the Opening Day roster with the Mets needing an upgrade over the James McCann/Tomas Nido duo. They got their upgrade, but it came from a free agency signing. Omar Narvaez is a Met and he's expected to split time with Nido behind the plate. Alvarez will likely find himself in Syracuse on Opening Day because of this. That can be seen as a good thing and a bad thing.
The case for including Francisco Alvarez on the Mets Opening Day roster
The Mets are a team without much power. Pete Alonso, of course, is one of the best power hitters in the game. Francisco Lindor should hit 25-30 home runs in 2023. Other than that, where's the power coming from?
The Mets hit 171 home runs in 2022, tied for 15th with the Orioles. Only one National League playoff team, the Padres, finished with a lower total. San Diego beat the Mets in the postseason largely because of their home runs hit in Game 1.
Narvaez and Nido combined to hit seven home runs in 182 games played. Alvarez hit one in 12 at-bats. He hit 24 in 2021 and 27 this past season. His power potential is through the roof and if he hits like the top prospect in baseball, he brings this Mets lineup to another level.
Of course, the defense is suspect but if the Mets think his bat is ready, he can catch some games and DH some others against lefties. If the bat is ready, this lineup could really use it. The hope here is the Mets survive the beginning of the season with his subpar defense and he'd develop into a guy they can use behind the plate five or six games a week.
The case for not including Francisco Alvarez on the Mets Opening Day roster
It's the defense. There's a reason the Mets signed Omar Narvaez to pair with Nido. The Mets do not think his glove is ready for the majors. Defense behind the plate is extremely important, and if Alvarez is not ready as a game-caller or pitch-framer, it's probably not worth having him with the big league club.
With the Mets signing Narvaez and having Nido there, while also bringing Daniel Vogelbach back to DH against righties, Alvarez would not get the chance to play very much. He could DH against southpaws and catch a game every week but is that enough time?
Alvarez is only 21 years old and has just 45 games of experience in AAA. He's skyrocketed through the Mets system and could probably use some more seasoning. Top prospects don't benefit from sitting on the bench five or so days a week. It'll be hard for him to get much of a rhythm going offensively and defensively.
The Mets should be fine with Alvarez spending some or even all of the season in AAA. They'll score enough runs to win regular season games and should make a move at the trade deadline for more power. They don't have to rush Alvarez if he's not ready to play the position they want him to play in the future. It's not worth it.