New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez is here for the long term and his first holiday season in New York is bringing smiles to the community. The Mets held their annual Thanksgiving turkey distribution to needy families and Alvarez is anxious to meet new manager Carlos Mendoza.
Friday afternoon, Alvarez was in the Bronx at Part of The Solution Community Center and participated in the Mets ninth annual giveaway event, a borough wide initiative that continues and helps families in need. Alvarez, 21-years old was proud to be wearing Mets colors and being a part of this event for the first time.
“It feels good because you know that they’re gonna spend days with their families with the things that they need,” he said through an interpreter, though Alvarez in the later months of the season as a rookie began to speak more in English and continues to develop his skills.
Back in Venezuela where many family and friends continue to be proud of his accomplishments, Alvarez said more are becoming Mets fans with the hire of Mendoza, a fellow Venezuelan. Alvarez, also is anxiously anticipating a chat and meet with his new manager.
The Mets are moving along with the beginning of a busy offseason under David Stearns, their new Director of Baseball Operations. Mendoza is in place and Friday, the Mets non tendered infielder Luis Guillorme and designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach. The Mets are expected to be active in their attempts to sign Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto and shore up their starting pitching rotation.
For now, though, Alvarez is a significant part of the Mets plans and will be an important cog in their lineup as they move along and forget a miserable 2023 season that went wrong.
In his first 66 games, Alvarez posted an .810 OPS, but he struggled in 23 games in August with a slash line of .139/.262/.194. There was good chemistry with previous manager Buck Showalter and an ankle injury that impeded his progress. Regardless, Alvarez is already in offseason prep mode of being that important cog.
“Last year, it was a different situation just because of the ankle injury that I had leading into the season, so I wasn’t able to work out the same way,’ he said. “But this offseason, I’ve had a full offseason to continue to work and I hope that the front office gives me the opportunity to play every day if I’ve earned it.”
Though it is too early to determine how Mendoza will construct the lineup. Alvarez is slated to be the fulltime catcher and occasionally the designated hitter spot, a familiar role that Showalter said was another option to get his home run production in the lineup. His 25 home runs was third to Pete Alonso (46) and Francisco Lindor (31). and his 63 RBI was fourth.
He said about Mendoza and the Venezuela connection “It feels really good, I’m super proud of the story, what it’s taken him to get to this point. It feels really good and I’m really proud of it. It brings a lot of pride and joy that he’s been given the opportunity. I think he’s one of those people that can open the doors for other Venezuelan potential managers in the future because of the skill sets that he has.”
The Mets have a loyal Latino fan base in the New York vicinity. Alvarez in his brief time at Citi Field has developed a popularity next to Alonso, Lindor, and others on the current roster. A full year in New York and more fans from Venezuela will be rooting for him and Mendoza in 2024.
“It’s pretty much the talk of the country (Venezuela) right now,” he said. “Everyone now turning into Mets fans over there. That’s all everyone talks about and they’re honestly solely fans of the Mets now because we have a Venezuelan manager. So it’s obviously something that’s really big in the country.”
Venezuelans by the way had 62 players on Major League rosters in 2023, second to the Dominican Republic with 104, and Alvarez, a right handed hitter is a potential All-Star who was getting consideration for NL Rookie of the Year honors prior to his setbacks at the plate.
But that power and tenacity to hit the home run ball is something the Mets are looking for. He is also the 12th player in MLB history with at least 12 home runs in his first 46 career games under the age of 22. A highlight on June 29 against the Nationals, his 20th home run and becoming the second 21-year-old catcher to reach that mark in a season, also breaking a Mets record by a rookie catcher.
“I can only get better,” he said. Mendoza and the Mets anticipate the progress.
Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso