New York Mets Future Is Bright With Francisco Alvarez

Already featuring one star named Francisco, Mets rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez is looking like another future star in New York.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 05: Francisco Alvarez #4 of the New York Mets reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Chase Field on July 05, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Mets won 2-1. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The New York Mets are in the midst of a very dissapointing season, which has them sitting six games under .500 and seven games out of a playoff spot at the All-Star break.

While the team has failed to meet expectations, there a few lone bright spots on the roster that have stood out in the first half and luckily those are the pieces that will be with the Mets well into the future. Two of which share a first name.

Francisco Lindor is supposed to be the face of this franchise, minted to a $341 million contract extension before he played a game with the club in 2021. After a dissapointing first season in Queens, Lindor has played at an exceptionally high level.

He posted nearly a 7-win season last year, when it comes to his fWAR, and is currently leading all qualified National League shortstops in home runs (19), runs scored (56), RBIs (60), wRC+ (120) and again is the league-leader in fWAR (3.3).

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Lindor is unquestionably one of the best shortstops in baseball and will be a fixture starting for the Mets until his contract expires after the 2031 season. Joining him as a potential building block of the franchise is another Francisco, who could solidify the catcher position for a decade to come.

Rise to Stardom for Francisco Alvarez

Francisco Alvarez has arguably been the best story of the season for the Mets, as the 21-year-old has burst onto the scene and grabbed the starting catcher spot that he has long been promised to take.

Alvarez has been the Mets top prospect since 2021. Every stop along the way it was Alvarez’s bat that led him to aggressive promotions, where his glove had to catch up. Yet it was actually his glove that brought him this final promotion to the big leagues, which looks to be his last.

Back in April, just a little over a week into the season, starting catcher Omar Narvaez hit the IL with a calf strain. As the only other catcher on the 40-man roster, outside of Tomas Nido, it was Alvarez who was called up. But Mets manager Buck Showalter did not just roll out the red carpet for Alvarez.

It took time for Alvarez to earn the confidence of his manager, but after splitting time with Nido at the start, the young slugger made his place as the starter of the present undeniable and it began with his work defensively.

Measuring catching has never been an exact science, but you can see it with the eye test when a catcher doesn’t have it defensively. As someone who has watched every one of his MLB games behind the dish up to this point, I can tell you firsthand that Alvarez has passed the eye test when it comes to his ability to defend.

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Luckily we now do have some statistics we can rely on thanks to Baseball Savant when it comes to a catcher’s defense and those only stand to affirm what the eye says. Alvarez is a very good defensive catcher, particularly for a rookie getting his first real taste of MLB action.

Alvarez currently ranks among the top 10 catchers in baseball in Catcher Framing Runs (4), and Blocks Above Average (4). His pop time is in the top 20 as well.

For a catcher that has the offensive potential of Alvarez, the question was always if he would be a liability with the glove and instead, he has proven to be an asset. This just adds to the intrigue of a top prospect who can provide power to the catcher position that few players can dream of.

Through his 66 games played in the first half this year, Alvarez has hit 17 home runs. That ties him with Sean Murphy for the MLB-lead among catchers and has placed him among rarified air when it comes to catchers all-time.

Considering the fact that Alvarez started off slow out of the gate, what he has done this season has been all the more impressive. Since May 1st, Alvarez is hitting .247/.311/.563, with 16 home runs and a 138 wRC+ across 54 games played.

Throw in the fact that Alvarez has shown up in the clutch, time after time, and it is easy to see why this kid has been hyped up as the Mets best catcher since Mike Piazza by our very own Aram Leighton in his top 100s, where he ranked as high as No. 4 in 2021.

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Just last week, Alvarez homered in all three of the Mets games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a series that they swept. Two of those home runs came late, one being a game-winning blast in Game 1, and the second behind a game-tying blast with the Mets down to their final strike in Game 2.

Early in his big league career, Alvarez has been a streaky hitter and his overall slash line still leaves something to be desired, as he currently sports an on-base percentage below .300. Yet the promise is the clearly there, with his ability to slug over .500, while providing above-average defense from the catcher position.

Mets Future With Their Two Franciscos

With all the money Steve Cohen has allocated towards payroll over the last two seasons, most of the dollars spent have been on shorter-term deals, but there are two contracts that span into the 2030s.

Lindor and his previously-mentioned $341 million contract is the most prominent, followed behind by Brandon Nimmo’s contract from this winter, an eight-year, $162 million deal. One thing both of these guys have in common is that they play up the middle, an area this franchise has struggled with mightily over the previous decade.

At shortstop, Jose Reyes represents the last star the Mets had featured at the position and he first left the team in free agency back in 2011. Carlos Beltran once patrolled center field for the Mets, but he was traded in the final year of his seven-year deal with the club during the 2011 campaign.

These two positions had been a revolving door for the Mets, before Lindor and Nimmo solidified them over the last few seasons. Now the Mets suddenly have two of the top 10 players in baseball at these most premium positions.

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If you want to field a really great baseball team, being strong up the middle is key and the Mets proved that to be the case last season when Nimmo and Lindor helped power the team to a 101-win season. Cohen is spending a lot of money to keep that duo in place up the middle for years to come.

Now if there is one player on the roster that will soon join them in being secured his place into the 2030s, Alvarez is certainly making the case to be that guy. With pre-arb extensions being all the rave nowadays, Alvarez could be looking at a long-term contract extension in his not-to-distant future.

Even if that contract isn’t there though, the Mets hold team team control over Alvarez until the 2029 season, giving them at least five seasons beyond this year with a potential superstar behind the dish.

Francisco Lindor came to the Mets as a ready-made star and has only solidified that status since his arrival. Having another superstar named Francicso with Alvarez could only promise for more team success down the line into the future. Team success could allude the Mets this year, but if Alvarez lives up the hype and the glimpses we have caught, the future looks awfully bright with Mets.