Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is set to hit free agency after this season unless he and the Mets agree to a contract extension. Many have assumed an extension would get done, given the deep pockets of Mets owner Steve Cohen and how Alonso himself has publicly seemed pretty open to signing an extension.
New Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns, however, didn’t appear to be optimistic about a possible extension on Monday.
“I think that’s probably the most likely outcome,” said Stearns of Alonso hitting free agency before getting a contract extension done.
Now, it’s entirely possible this is partially a negotiating tactic, but it’s also possible there have been conversations on a possible extension that were far enough apart that Stearns is content to just let Alonso play his final contract year with the Mets before reassessing the situation.
Alonso, 29, is a three-time All-Star with two top-10 MVP finishes. He holds the Mets single-season home run record with 53 (2019) and actually has three of the top five home run seasons in Mets history despite having only played in four full seasons. He’s already tied for fourth in franchise history in home runs with 192, trailing only Darryl Strawberry (252), David Wright (242) and Mike Piazza (220).
A large-volume run producer, too, Alonso has driven home 120, 94, 131 and 118 runs in his four full seasons. The 131 is also a Mets single-season record and he currently sits 10th in Mets history with 498 RBI.
Along with those 46 homers and 118 RBI last season, Alonso hit .217/.318/.504 (122 OPS+). The batting average dip is concerning, but he hit .271 in 2022 and he still isn’t even 30 years old, so it could be a blip. Given his power, he only really needs to hit .240-.250 to be incredibly productive. Hell, he drove home 118 runs last season while only hitting .217.
The Mets are doing a bit of a rebuild-on-the-fly with Stearns at the helm, but Alonso is a thunderous bat in the middle of a lineup and surely if they want to contend in the upcoming seasons, there will be every effort to keep him around.
The closest thing the Mets have to a first base prospect is Ryan Clifford, who was acquired from the Astros last summer in the Justin Verlander trade. In 115 games between Class A and High-A, the 20-year-old Clifford hit .262/.374/.480 with 24 homers and 81 RBI.
Alonso, though, is one of baseball’s premier middle-order power bats. It would be surprising if the Mets ended up just letting him walk. We’ll see. As noted, Stearns could just be negotiating.