Player Data: Age: 31 (02/10/1992), B/T: L/R
Primary Stats: 49 G, 146 PA, 128 AB, .211/.283/.297, 27 H, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 2B, 0 3B, 0 SB
Advanced Stats: 64 wRC+, 18.5% K%, 9.6% BB%, .245 BABIP, 312 xwOBA, 0.0 fWAR, 0.0 bWAR
2023 Salary: $8,000,000
Billy Eppler made a lot of puzzling moves as New York’s top decision-maker in the front office, but perhaps one of the most confusing of his Mets tenure was signing Omar Narváez to a two-year, $15 million deal.
Narváez entered the 2023 season expecting to be the everyday catcher, with Tomás Nido as his backup. Of course, the Mets would mix and match with Narváez and Nido hitting from two opposite sides of the dish, but no real thought was given to Francisco Álvarez being a contributor in the early goings.
The expectation entering was that Narváez would be an upgrade, offensively and defensively, to James McCann, who the Mets shipped off to the Orioles. But any thought in that neighborhood was quickly put to rest, as Narváez was diagnosed with a medium-to-high-grade strain of his left calf, with a timetable of 8-to-9 weeks as a return estimate.
It wasn’t long after that Álvarez took the starting catching job and ran with it, as the Mets didn’t think he’d be able to handle an everyday catching load. He put that narrative to rest rather quickly. And, by the time Narváez returned from the injured list, he was demoted to backup. Nido, the veteran backstop, was designated for assignment when Narváez returned from the injured list.
And because of that, his performance suffered. While you may want to look at his 2023 stats in a vacuum because of the lack of playing time he received, it was still one of his worst seasons to date. His struggles at the plate were particularly concerning. He had a career-low OPS of .580 and struck out in over 18% of his plate appearances. He also had trouble hitting for power, with his two home runs being his lowest total since his rookie season.
Defensively, Narváez was also below average. He threw out just 12% of base runners, and his caught-stealing percentage was the worst of his career. Granted, the rule changes and his lack of time behind the dish affected those numbers, but he failed to excel in an area that had been a strength for him. In the previous six seasons, his caught-stealing percentages were above 20%, including a career-high of 30.4% in 2020.
Numbers down all across the board, Narváez had a season to forget in 2023. That’s why it didn’t come as a surprise when he picked up his player option — worth $7 million — for the 2024 season.
Narváez showed little glimpses of promise, but those were few and far between when compared to Francisco Álvarez. His overall numbers were less than impressive, and his performance reflected as much. Narváez presents himself as one of the best backup catchers but is now one of the most expensive ones. With the lack of quality catchers in the league, Narváez could very well be a starter on several other MLB clubs. It’s hard to envision the Mets paying another catcher to play elsewhere for the second consecutive season. The Mets being able to call on Narváez in a pinch will certainly be crucial, especially with Álvarez beginning just his second full season in the league.