Pete Alonso has been one of the primary faces of the Mets since he made his debut in 2019, but will the slugger still be in New York when the 2024 season opens?
Alonso is slated to become a free agent at the end of next season, setting him up for a potential nine-figure payday. The Mets have held discussions with Alonso’s camp about a potential extension, sources said, but the two sides appear to have differing ideas on the type of contract the 28-year-old should command.
“The Mets made an offer that, while it certainly wasn’t insulting, wasn’t one good enough to convince Alonso to forego free agency,” said a source with knowledge of the talks. “But the offseason is a long one. There’s no urgency to get something done right now.”
They could also come to terms on a deal for 2024 (Alonso’s final year of arbitration) this offseason, and then reassess their options next summer when he is closer to free agency and they may have organizational clarity.
New York’s active Trade Deadline – the Mets traded away Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Mark Canha, David Robertson and Tommy Pham in an attempt to get younger – has led many to project that the club will use 2024 as a reset, though not as the start of a full rebuild.
“I’m not convinced the Mets are ready to tank 2024,” the source said. “They could very well bring Alonso back and essentially return the same offense they had this season, then sign some starting pitchers to multi-year deals. The first thing they need to do is figure out who will be making those decisions.”
Owner Steve Cohen will have the ultimate say, though he is expected to hire a president of baseball operations to take over the department ahead of general manager Billy Eppler. David Stearns – a New York native who ran the Brewers’ baseball operations department from September 2015 through October 2021 – has been viewed as the leading candidate for a while, and until that position is settled, it’s impossible to say what approach the Mets will take with their roster.
With Alonso poised to become a free agent following the 2024 season — not to mention a salary that has been projected to fall into the $21 million range in his final year of arbitration this offseason — the Mets could explore trade possibilities in the coming months. USA Today reported Sunday that the Mets have told other teams that any player not under contract beyond 2024 is available, with some executives saying they expect Alonso to be dealt this offseason.
“Trading Alonso is likely the most prudent course of action if the Mets plan to take next season as a soft reset year,” a National League executive said. “It saves them what will be a large 2024 salary and there’s no reason they couldn’t then attempt to sign him as a free agent after 2024. The return they can expect to receive for one year of Alonso at his projected salary won’t be huge, but that’s still likely to be their best approach.”
Another NL executive believes there’s a likely chance that the Mets move Alonso this winter, though not for pennies on the dollar. Like their deals for Verlander and Scherzer, it’s possible the Mets could pay down Alonso’s salary in exchange for an upgrade on the prospect, or prospects, they receive in return.
Miguel Cabrera holds the record for average annual value for a first baseman at $31 million, followed by Freddie Freeman ($27 million) and Paul Goldschmidt ($26 million). Matt Olson signed an eight-year, $168 million deal ($21 million AAV) after being traded to the Braves last winter, though he was two years away from free agency as opposed to Alonso, who is one. Olson was two weeks shy of his 29th birthday when he signed his extension, while Alonso turns 29 this December and will be entering his age-30 season if he reaches free agency.
Alonso’s prodigious power – he has 185 home runs in 653 career games, averaging more than 40 home runs per year in his four full seasons – should line him up for a hefty payday, but is he looking for something between Olson and Freeman, or is he targeting a deal in the $30 million-plus range, which would potentially give him the highest AAV for a first baseman in history?
If the Mets’ talks with Alonso this offseason don’t bring the two sides closer, New York could decide to move the three-time All-Star for prospects rather than risk losing him for Draft-pick compensation.
Given that the Mets don’t have the same payroll constraints as some other clubs, the NL executive believes “they would hold out unless they got a high-end prospect, similar to how the Deadline played out.”
The Brewers and Cubs were among the clubs that talked with the Mets about Alonso prior to this year’s Trade Deadline, and given the lack of impact first basemen on this year’s free-agent market, more clubs would likely jump into the fray if Alonso became available.
“Is there some chance [Alonso gets traded]? Sure,” an American League executive said. “There aren’t going to be too many bat-oriented players available this offseason as it’s a weaker free agent class. Is it a slam dunk? I doubt it. The best Mets team in 2024 includes him, and I can’t imagine they have entirely predetermined the outcome.”