Mets land catcher Omar Narváez, sign five players to minor league contracts

New York Mets
General view of a tarp on the field as rain falls at Citi Field.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Not long after landing free-agent catcher Omar Narváez, the active New York Mets signed five players to minor league contracts Friday.

Narváez and the Mets agreed to a $15 million, two-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical and had not been finalized.

New York re-signed reliever Tommy Hunter to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis, outfielder Abraham Almonte and infielder José Peraza also got minor league deals with invites to spring training. Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, returns to the Mets on a minor league contract.

Narváez, who turns 31 in February, was an All-Star in 2021 with Milwaukee before batting just .206 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 84 games for the Brewers last season. He joins a crowded catching situation in New York and represents the latest significant addition to the free-spending Mets.

The team also has Tomás Nido, veteran James McCann and touted prospect Francisco Álvarez behind the plate.

Those three are all right-handed hitters, while Narváez provides a left-handed bat. Now that Narváez is in the fold, New York could look to trade McCann or Nido.

Narváez gets an $8 million salary next year and has a $7 million player option for 2024.

The move would push New York’s record luxury tax payroll to around $360 million next year in the third season since owner Steve Cohen bought the team. He will be taxed at a 90% rate on every dollar above $293 million, the fourth and highest threshold — bringing the team’s projected 2023 penalty to about $85 million as of now.

Seeking their first World Series title since 1986, the Mets have committed $476.7 million to seven free agents this offseason, adding starters Justin Verlander and José Quintana, retaining center fielder Brandon Nimmo and closer Edwin Díaz, signing reliever David Robertson and reaching an agreement with Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga that is pending a physical.

The moves help offset the losses of starters Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassitt in free agency.

Narváez spent the past three years with Milwaukee and also has played for the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners. He is a .258 career hitter with 51 home runs and a .728 OPS in seven major league seasons.

Narváez set career highs across the board in 2019 with Seattle, hitting .278 with 22 homers, 55 RBIs and an .813 OPS. He had another solid season two years later with the Brewers, batting .266 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs and a .743 OPS in 123 games.

The 36-year-old Hunter had a 1.78 ERA in 22 appearances covering 30 1/3 innings with the Mets over the past two seasons. The 15-year veteran is 56-46 with a 4.00 ERA and 22 saves for seven big league teams.