Now that the 2023 season is over for the New York Mets, we have been looking back at the year that was. After taking a more general view of the offense, pitching, and coaching staff, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the Mets’ players. This series will take a look at every player on the roster for the Mets at the end of the season from A (Abraham Almonte) to W (Josh Walker). The review will look at their season statistics, stories, and what role (if any) they will have next season. We continue the series today with a look at catcher Omar Narvaez.
Player Review: Omar Narvaez
2023 Stats: 47 Games, 128 At Bats, .211 Batting Average, 27 Hits, 5 Doubles, 2 Home Runs, 7 RBIs, 2 Runs Scored, 14 Walks, .580 OPS, 0.0 WAR
Story: With the belief that Francisco Alvarez needed another year of seasoning in the minor leagues, the Mets signed veteran catcher Omar Narvaez to a one-year deal worth $8 million with a player option for 2024 worth another $7 million. The idea was that Narvaez would form the dominant half of a platoon with defensive-minded Tomas Nido, who signed a two-year deal of his own in spring training, to provide Alvarez all the time he needed to work on his defense at AAA Syracuse.
The plan appeared to be a solid one as Narvaez got off to a fast start, collecting four hits in his first 14 at bats, but he suffered a severe calf injury that sidelined him for two months. By the time Narvaez returned in early June Alvarez had not only been called to the majors but supplanted both Nido and newcomer Gary Sanchez to become the team’s starting catcher. Narvaez was entrenched as the backup and struggled to produce with limited playing time at the plate while suffering unusual defensive lapses given his reputation as a solid glove behind the dish.
The Mets didn’t trade Narvaez at the deadline with an eye towards having him catch more down the stretch since Alvarez was set to exceed his previous high for games caught by a significant margin. Narvaez essentially platooned with Alvarez for the final six weeks and saw his offensive production pick up a little bit, but not enough to merit anything more than backup duty in 2024.
Narvaez caught a bad break to essentially lose his job due to injury but he wasn’t very productive as a backup either. The fact that the Mets signed Narvaez when Alvarez looked so good as a rookie is a sign of bad organizational process where the front office has long had a problem evaluating their own talent.
Contract Status: Signed Through 2024 (Will Earn $7 Million In 2024)
Odds Of Returning: 90%
2024 Role: Backup Catcher
Narvaez made a smart business decision to pick up his player option because there was no way he would come close to $7 million on the open market after his rough season. New President of Baseball Operations David Stearns is familiar with Narvaez from their time together in Milwaukee and will likely stick with him as a veteran backup for Alvarez. Nido does remain in the organization and makes less money than Narvaez so there is a possibility that the Mets will shop Narvaez to a team looking for catching help.
Such a move would benefit Narvaez as it would give him a cleaner path to playing time and the Mets, who could theoretically reallocate some of Narvaez’s money to other needs. The odds of finding a usable roster upgrade without having to pay down some of Narvaez’s salary are slim, however, and at that point it would be more beneficial just to keep Narvaez around to serve as a mentor to Alvarez.
Check back tomorrow as our Player Review Series continues with a look at catcher Tomas Nido!