For the Mets, this winter has been a mix of long-term and short-term planning. Throughout the offseason, the club has made it clear that it wants to win now while also working to become a long-term winner.
The Mets can take the next step toward that long-term goal by extending Pete Alonso, their homegrown first baseman.
To avoid arbitration on Friday, Alonso and the Mets agreed to a one-year, $14.5 million contract for 2023. It was the largest contract ever awarded to a first baseman in arbitration, and it felt surreal to the two-time Home Run Derby champion.
“It was really special,” Alonso told reporters at a youth home run derby benefiting the Alonso Foundation in Tampa over the weekend. “As a young kid, I never imagined that would be a possibility. It was a dream, after all. As a young kid, you just want to get [to the major leagues], and then once things start to become more of a reality, then it’s like ‘OK, this is real. This is true.'”
Alonso has one more arbitration year before becoming a free agent, but a multi-year contract extension with the Mets could eliminate the possibility of free agency in two years. “Polar Bear Pete” is essential to the club’s success on the field and one of the most popular players off the field. With his consistent offensive production and passionate playing style, the 2019 NL Rookie of the Year has established himself as a franchise cornerstone.
Last season, the 28-year-old two-time All-Star led the Mets with 40 home runs. Given the lack of home run hitters in the lineup, this is not an insignificant number. He quietly argued for the National League MVP Award, and he received votes, finishing eighth. Alonso had a.896 OPS and a 146 OPS+ while playing solid first base.
He’s also proven to be durable, missing only two games in 2022, ten the previous year, and one in his rookie season in 2019.
His support for 9/11 first responders has not gone unnoticed in his adopted hometown of New York City. He has spoken out against bullying by sharing his own experiences. While the team’s exuberant positivity has been questioned at times (telling fans to “smile” because they get to watch baseball while the team was slipping out of playoff contention in 2021 didn’t go over well), no one questions whether it’s genuine.
It’s not out of the question that Alonso could be considered for the captaincy, which no Mets player has held since David Wright retired at the end of the 2018 season. But, for that to happen, he must be present to see a captaincy through.
It’s a foregone conclusion for the Mets. Alonso is a franchise cornerstone on which they can continue to build. And, while the club may be fine with spending unprecedented amounts of money to compete in the coming seasons, payroll numbers will begin to fall as the prospect pipeline begins to produce cheap talent. Getting his salary figures settled will aid in future payroll planning efforts and will assist the Mets in determining how to eventually return below the CBT threshold.
It is uncommon for players to spend their entire careers with the same organisation. It’s especially uncommon for celebrities. Fans had hoped that ace Jacob deGrom would be one of the few superstars to wear the same uniform throughout his career and were disappointed when he left for the Texas Rangers in December, but were encouraged when outfielder Brandon Nimmo announced that he had signed an eight-year contract to remain a Met for life.
Alonso refused to say whether or not he has discussed an extension with the Mets, saying his agent would have a better answer. He did, however, express his desire to win a World Series with the Mets, as well as the club’s desire to win several championships.
“I feel like we’re on the verge of something very special,” Alonso said. “I know we don’t just want to win one championship; we want to win several.”
It’s about time for the Mets to start talking about an extension, which is one of the next logical steps in their quest to build a perennial contender.