Instead of trading Pete Alonso, the Mets should be trying to sell him on what their new identity will be
The Mets reportedly were close to trading Pete Alonso to the Brewers, who can become a free agent after the 2024 season
In a report for the Athletic late Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal reported the Mets were potentially close to dealing superstar 1B Pete Alonso to the Brewers in exchange for one of several permutations of a prospect package.
Rosenthal says that Brewers top prospect Jackson Chourio - who is the second-best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com - wasn’t on the table in discussions for Alonso, but said any one of their other top five prospects might’ve been considered in the deal.
The trade never happened, of course and according to Rosenthal, the Mets were also engaged in conversations with the Cubs about Alonso, but the Mets insist no deal was close with either club.
“I love representing this organization,” Alonso said after Tuesday’s loss to the Braves. “Being a Met is the only thing I know. I don’t know what the future holds but right now I’m a Met and I love being a Met.”
It was no secret the Mets were shopping Alonso at the deadline. They were shopping pretty much everybody in what was a clear effort to gauge outside value on their players and clean out as much of the house as they could. It was surprising they were able to move both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander and get the level of prospect currency back that they did, although they are effectively paying in excess of $100 million by paying down their contracts plus the contracts of the other players they dealt to try and quickly reload their farm system.
What’s surprising to me is how serious this report suggests the Mets were about moving Alonso, who is clearly their franchise player and the face of their franchise.
The questions to me when making trades, and making trades for franchise-type players is always simple, yet two pronged:
Is any possible return - even for baseball’s best prospect or three of baseball’s best prospects - going to net a long-term on-field benefit that’s equivalent to the one they’d have by retaining the player?
When it comes to moving franchise players, such as Alonso, what does that do to the brand and reputation of the club both in the short and long-term?
And there’s truly no way to equate a package of prospects to any sort of long-term projection or impact on the club. Buying prospects is like buying tools and there are very few prospects in the end that can project out, let alone to the extent that Alonso can at this point in time.
In the case of Alonso, no player in baseball has more home runs than him since he came up in April, 2019.
Here’s the list, by the way, courtesy of Baseball Reference (stathead). It’s not particularly close, either:
And don’t forget the 60-game, COVID-19 shortened season in 2020, which cut short his (and others) production. Imagine what another 100 games might’ve done for him here?
At any rate, he’s averaging 37 home runs per season with the shortened 2020 season taken into account with an average of 46 home runs per-162 games played. If he continues on this pace per-162, Alonso will amass 500 home runs sometime during the early part of the 2030 season, or when he’s 35, a trajectory that indisputably puts him on track for the Hall of Fame and unquestionably marking him as the most prolific power hitter in franchise history.
Even if his production dips or he gets hurt along the way, he’s well on course to hit 500 home runs in his career.
I can’t figure out why the Mets wouldn’t want that to happen for their franchise.
There was a time about 11 or 12 years ago when David Wright’s contract was set to expire, the Mets were in a rebuilding phase and there were questions brewing around whether or not the Mets would or even should retain him, or deal him out to another club. The circumstances were similar - the Mets had a year of control left on Wright’s contract, he was 29-ish, and of course the team was going nowhere in the following two years.
I can’t remember if there were any specific rumors like this where the Mets were shopping Wright and gauging his value, and at no point was there a report (that I can remember anyway) where the Mets might have actually been close to moving Wright.
In the end, the Mets decided to engage Wright on a new contract, Jeff Wilpon was personally involved to make sure Wright was comfortable and happy with the process, and the two sides eventually lived happily ever after.
Now, from a financial/production perspective, it wasn’t the best contract the Mets ever wrote, and what happened to Wright was terribly unfortunate. But the decision to retain Wright created an everlasting relationship between the Mets and their franchise player, helped restore the reputation of a club which had been smeared by the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, and all-in-all it was the correct decision then and remains the correct decision today. Wright is as important a figure and a face to the club’s brand as there is over the course of their history. People identify with the Mets and Wright during his era with the club, and people now need a new player to identify and cling to in this era.
That player right now is Alonso. Not Francisco Lindor, not anybody else. It’s Pete Alonso.
Don’t get me wrong, Lindor has been fantastic over the last two years, but he’s not making the grassroots impact Alonso is on the fan base.
The last thing the Mets should or need to do is let go of a homegrown superstar in Alonso, and one who has a chance to make a historical impact on the game like this as well. It would crush them for years no matter who they got back in return, even if they can be sure they’ll get 1-for-1 on-field value long-term.
As it was with Wright and, if you really want to go back, Tom Seaver, it’s about brand and reputation building. Every team (and every team in New York) needs an identity, and shedding Alonso from the roster would shed them of their identity and allure.
There would be almost no chance the Mets could get him back in free agency if they had traded him now or if they decide to trade him over the next 11 months, either.
Instead, the Mets should be selling Alonso on what they feel their identity will be with him over the next decade, and ensuring that if Alonso is indeed on a Hall of Fame track, that all of that is accomplished in one uniform.
As was the case with Wright, even if they sign him long-term and he diminishes and/or gets hurt during the life of the contract, it will still be worth it because of what he means to the organization.
And who knows? Maybe Alonso will be an icon of stability for his entire career? It does happen from time to time.
I’ve talked a lot lately about the dehumanization of the game and the players being treated as nothing but a resource with a number on their back. This is a part of that dehumanization I’m referring to as the decision to even move these talks forward with the Brewers lacks empathy or the realization of any sort of consequences to the short and long-term health of the franchise. It’s strictly, “what’s this asset worth, what can we get for him, is this good enough, yes or no?”
Very cold, very robotic, very tone deaf.
This has nothing to do with what the fans might want or don’t want. Rather, this is about them and what they need for the long-term health of their brand, reputation and franchise as a whole.
And quite frankly, if the Mets were so willing to retain Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil and make them Mets-for-life this past winter, there is no reason why the Mets can’t do the same with their most valuable and recognizable player.