The Mets have made it official: they’ve selected the contract of top catching prospect Francisco Alvarez from Triple-A Syracuse, confirming his previously reported promotion to the big leagues. In a pair of corresponding roster moves, Darin Ruf was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a neck strain, and lefty Alex Claudio was designated for assignment. Alvarez will serve as the Mets’ designated hitter today, batting seventh in his Major League debut.
Considered by most outlets to be among baseball’s ten best prospects — and considered the top prospect in the sport at MLB.com — Alvarez will cap off a monstrous season with his first call to the Majors. Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A this year, the 20-year-old slugger posted a combined .260/.374/.511 batting line with 27 home runs, 22 doubles, a 14.1% walk rate and a 24.8% strikeout rate in 495 plate appearances. He’s been on an absolute tear since returning from a stint on the minor league injured list earlier this month, mashing at a .362/.483/.596 clip over his past 58 plate appearances.
That’s a stark contrast to the veteran Ruf, acquired from the Giants prior to the trade deadline. The 36-year-old has been one of the game’s most potent bats against lefties in recent years but has stumbled to a dismal .152/.216/.197 batting line in 74 plate appearances as a Met — handily being outproduced by the same right-handed slugger for which he was traded; J.D. Davis is batting .280/.375/.525 in 136 trips to the plate as a Giant. (The Mets also sent lefty Thomas Szapucki and a pair of prospects to San Francisco in that swap.)
Alvarez’s first start will come against Braves southpaw Max Fried — a tough opponent but a favorable platoon matchup at least. In 132 plate appearances against southpaws in the minors this season, he’s raked at a .315/.424/.595 clip and slugged 15 extra-base hits (eight homers, seven doubles). Fried is (obviously) more than a cut above the quality of pitchers Alvarez has been facing in Double-A and Triple-A, but he’ll still add some right-handed thump in a pivotal series that could very well decide the winner of the National League East.
Claudio, 30, tossed 3 1/3 shutout innings with the Mets earlier this month, marking his ninth consecutive season with time spent on a Major League roster. A fixture in the bullpens of the Rangers and then the Brewers from 2014-20, Claudio struggled through a poor 2021 season with the Angels and subsequently spent the bulk of the current campaign in Triple-A. He posted a combined 3.44 ERA in 311 2/3 frames in that ’14-’20 stretch between Texas and Milwaukee before serving up a grisly 5.51 ERA in 32 2/3 innings as an Angel. He’s posted a 3.91 ERA in Syracuse this year, in addition to his 3 1/3 shutout innings for the Mets’ big league roster.
The Mets will place Claudio on outright waivers or release waivers within the next couple days. He has more than six years of Major League service time, so he’d be a free agent at season’s end regardless. It’s possible he’ll accept an outright in hopes of potentially being selected back to the roster in the event of an injury, but he’ll be a free agent this offseason regardless.
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