Billy Eppler: Francisco Alvarez 'likely not a factor right non' to bolster Mets offense

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The Mets were reportedly looking to upgrade behind the plate at the trade deadline, among many positions, and Chicago’s Willson Contreras was apparently the big prize in that realm – but much like Eppler said about prices being ‘too high’ for a lefty reliever, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer admitted Tuesday Chicago didn’t find what they were looking for in a Contreras deal.

“There were teams that were interested,” and we were willing to listen if someone gave us a piece that could really help our future. We never crossed that threshold,” Hoyer said. “Willson is a really valuable player. He’s been a great Cub for six years now, and we never got to that place where we felt comfortable making a deal to end his tenure here.”

Perhaps, then, that situation is what Eppler was referring to when explaining what occurred ahead of the deadline in his talks for a catcher.

“Last night I felt like we were a little close, but then today some things kind of drifted apart in the end,” Eppler said, “and we weren’t going to try to chase it down and do something we would regret. We didn’t want to chase something down and commit multiple years to a situation. We didn’t feel that was the prudent thing to do.”

James McCann is currently on a rehab assignment and will be returning shortly to “reinforce the position,” and the Mets did acquire Triple-A depth in Michael Perez in a deal late last month, so it’s those two plus the current tandem of Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika going forward.

And yes, it’s intentional that Francisco Alvarez was omitted from that paragraph, because Eppler doesn’t seem him as an option right now.

“We have a young kid that all of you have asked me about individually, but I don’t think he’s at a point where he’s going to factor in right now,” the GM said.

Alvarez has ascended to the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball thanks to in-season graduations from most lists, but after starting the season on fire at Double-A Binghamton, he has hit just .173 with three home runs in 16 games at Triple-A Syracuse entering Tuesday. However, he has come on over the last week, but even that surge of progress isn't enough for Eppler to rush the future.

“I’d rather a player get messed with in Triple-A than get thrown into a pennant race where the stakes are higher,” Eppler said. “He has learning to do but he’s doing great. We’re so proud of him. He's checking those boxes, and we couldn't be happier with his trajectory."

It’s questionable how much of a defensive upgrade Alvarez would be over McCann, Nido, or even Mazeika down the stretch, and given his line in Triple-A, adding him to be a DH-only option who can go behind the plate in a pinch could be dicey.

The Mets did not deal any of their top prospects at the deadline, and they have reportedly discussed calling up Mark Vientos, a third baseman/left fielder who is a Top 5 prospect and has hit .267 with 19 homers at Triple-A – but with both Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf acquired to fill similar roles as Vientos would fill, that future seems murky as well.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN

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