The Mets are facing an off-season unlike most any other in their history.
Just look at the rubble from this tumultuous season. The roster - which is in serious need of talent and philosophical change - seems like the smaller sized pebbles to the giant boulders between a dysfunctional dugout staff and the executive wing of leadership within the organization. All of this must be addressed in a matter of four months upon the conclusion of the season, and the Mets must get all of it right this time.
Still, even if the Mets check all of those boxes, they will still have questions surrounding Jacob deGrom, his health and what he can be as he tries to preserve his own health throughout the course of a season going forward. And they already have a projected payroll of around $130m before they even consider their arbitration-eligible players, free agent and trade acquisitions.
Oh, and don’t forget the uncertainty with the Robinson Canó situation and the $20m question mark there, whether he plays for them or not.
Another giant elephant in the room is an expiring collective bargaining agreement between the union and the league which could change the dynamic of free agency, arbitration and payroll requirements, assuming a new one is agreed to at all.
There isn’t a lot of certainty in these uncertain times for the Mets.
So, how can they begin to create certainty? Sign Pete Alonso to an extension.
Aside from his prolific power numbers which need not mentioning at this point, he’s established himself as a popular star in New York and a player the Mets can build a brand around. He’s been a steady presence with an ability to stay relatively healthy over the course of his first three years as well. As he enters his arbitration years this winter, all of this will come at a significant cost using precedents which could quickly escalate their payroll at a time the Mets really need predictability over the next few years.
Plus, the Mets should demonstrate a willingness now to commit to a homegrown star again, especially after a historically bad season (they’re the first team to spend 103 days in first place and finish with a losing record) marred by controversy. Its an opportunity for Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson to lay a long-term foundation for a team to build around with a unique and special player. The Mets have been generally unwilling or unable to do that in large measure outside of David Wright and Jacob deGrom, but they now have an opportunity to make such a commitment again with a likable star in his prime which would be mutually beneficial as well.
“I think guys like Pete Alonso…have really demonstrated their commitment to the city and it’s people. Those are positive things to take into account.”
– Sandy Alderson
Alonso is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025 after his age-30 season. If he’s interested, perhaps the Mets would structure a deal which would keep him in Flushing through at least 2027, buying out two free agent years with competitive escalations and an opt out package when he would’ve otherwise been eligible for free agency.
He’s most certainly a keeper.
Of course, this would only be the start and not the end. But it is the good start to an off-season badly in need of good news for the Mets as they attempt to right their ship and rediscover their North Star.
The matter of the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring on December 1st should preclude a lot of big contracts from being signed. If long term extensions for pre-arb players are still a thing, both sides will likely want to suss out the changes to the CBA first.
If this article was published next year, or even the year after, then sure. Pete's contract is not yet an issue and likely will never be if Steve Cohen is holding the checkbook. #20 is on the lineup card, written in pen for next year. Many larger problems on this team in terms of Conforto, Syndergaard, Baez, and upgrades at 3B and LF have more urgency.
Imagining a scenario for cost certainty for 2025 is a good idea, but even Steve Cohen suggested he'd be willing to blow past the tax threshold if it would be worth it to the team. As the Wilpons are spectators now, fielding a competitive team regardless of cost impact seems to be possible.