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Mets have right Francisco Alvarez plan for 2023 MLB Opening Day

The New York Mets most likely will start the 2023 MLB season without their top prospect, Francisco Alvarez, on the Opening Day roster. And that’s OK.

As much as the organization and its fans would love to see Alvarez crushing balls over the wall at Citi Field as soon as possible, the slow and steady approach is more conducive to the catcher’s long-term success.

So, that means the 21-year-old should expect to start the season at Triple-A, not only to get more at-bats, but to get himself Major League-ready behind the dish.

“We want to wait for the complete package to be there,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said Saturday. “If Francisco makes our club, we want to make sure we can catch him because the long term trajectory for this young man is to be able to catch.”

It’s the right approach to take. It could be tempting to carry Alvarez as a third catcher, behind Tomas Nido and Omar Narvaez, and let him take at-bats as designated hitter. In that scenario, he’d likely take the roster spot of Darrin Ruf, who was a bust as right-handed DH late last season.

While enticing, it would stunt his growth as a catcher. And catcher is the position the Mets hope he’ll play for them over the next decade or so.

“We have to satisfy that up here. It would not be a pure DH situation,” Eppler said.

Manager Buck Showalter is also on board with the plan.

“We know Omar and Nido are going to be our two catchers,” Showalter said Friday. “We’ll see where Francisco fits in that mix.”

Alvarez should get a lot of reps with the MLB pitching staff in spring training. Narvaez will participate in the World Baseball Classic, clearing more innings for Alvarez.

Then it’s up to the No. 1 catching prospect in all of baseball to work on his craft and force the Mets to call him back up. You’d think that will be sometime this season but no one is saying, of course.

“At some point, he will get an opportunity,” Showalter said, stating the obvious.

Brett Baty, the other top Mets prospect who’s close to taking over at third base, likely falls in the same boat as Alvarez. Start the season in the minors, work on your game there (read: defense, especially) and then provide a lift to the MLB team at some point this season. Mark Vientos could be in this category, too.

“Gotta’ play defense here,” Eppler said. “That was probably demonstrated last year by some of the personnel decisions we made, that defense is important.

“It’s critical.”

And it’s the last piece of the puzzle before Francisco Alvarez arrives in Queens, prepared to be the No. 1 catcher.

Photo: Mark Rosenman

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