WASHINGTON, D.C. — For those waiting with bated breath about the arrival of Mets top prospect and catcher Francisco Alvarez to the majors, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.
General manager Billy Eppler admitted on Wednesday shortly after the MLB trade deadline passed that the 20-year-old slugger is “not an option right now” for a team that was a heavy suitor in the catcher’s market in recent days.
That means continuing a playoff push with Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika while starter James McCann works his way back from an oblique injury.
“Last night I felt like we were close,” Eppler said of his team’s chances of getting a catcher. “Today some things drifted apart. We weren’t going to try and chase it down… We’ll get James back here shortly and that’ll reinforce the position. We also have a young kid developing… but I don’t think he’s at a point where he’ll factor in right now.”
Still, there’s no denying that the Mets need an offensive boost at the catcher’s spot, which is why they were in on the likes of Chicago Cubs All-Star Willson Contreras. The team’s current trio sports a paltry .523 OPS, which ranks dead last in the majors among catching tandems around baseball.
Alvarez has certainly shown that he can be a difference-maker at the plate sooner rather than later. After sporting a .922 OPS with 18 home runs and 47 RBI in Double-A, he’s slowly finding his legs in Triple-A Syracuse — batting .278 with two home runs and five RBI in his last five games.
But his progression between the ears is just as important as his physical development, according to Eppler, who noted that Triple-A is a time when prospects discover whether or not they are “mentally ready” to make the jump to the majors.
Hence why he’s hesitant to entertain the idea of Alvarez with the big club in Queens.
“I’d rather a player get messed with in Triple-A than get thrown into a pennant race where the stakes are higher,” Eppler said. “He has learning to do but he’s doing great. We’re so proud of him. One of the messages I gave to him.. he’s checking those boxes as far as swing decisions.Couldn’t be happier with his trajectory.
“I could only answer for the immediate time. That’s all I can answer for. All I can say is he’s not an option right now.”