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The next and most obvious step for the Mets...
After locking up Jeff McNeil, the Mets need to figure out how to ensure Pete Alonso is a Met-for-life
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets and Jeff McNeil agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract extension with an option for a fifth year (story)
The Mets like both Zach Britton and Andrew Chafin, but they could prefer relievers who can be optioned to the minors right now (Athletic)
Jeremy Hefner and his team of pitching coaches recently traveled to Seattle to watch Kodai Senga throw and began to build a rapport with him ahead of spring training (New York Post)
16 days until Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie! ⚾️🌴
The obvious next step to take for the Mets… ✍🏻
For about a year - maybe more - our writing team here at Just Mets has been calling for the Mets to extend both Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso in an attempt to make them both Mets-for-lifers.
We’ve talked about the importance and significance of being able to extend homegrown stars and create legacies with players at nauseam. The importance of brand recognition and maintaining a both a bond and a connection between players and fans is a personal one. The players understand that as former fans turned player as well, even if the business side of things ultimately becomes more important to them.
So finally, the Mets have taken the first step in this endeavor, locking up McNeil for as many as five years through 2027, or his age-35 season.
Now, while this is great and all, and while I’m sure McNeil is thrilled to have what so many player covet in a long-term extension, consider why this happened for a moment on this date.
McNeil is 30 years old. He was called up late to the big leagues at age-26, so he was only in his second year of arbitration. He had one more to go before he would become a free agent ahead of his age-33 season. McNeil is a great player but not one that’s typically coveted at the top of the market given his overall skillset. Add that into his age when he becomes a free agent and the safer bet for him was to take an extension now, buy out at least the first two years of his free agency, and see who ultimately wins this gamble later.
For McNeil, its an opportunity to become that Met-for-life in the process.
For the Mets of course, this is a huge win for them. They get an elite, highly intelligent player locked up for five years at an average annual value of $12.75 million over life of the deal should they exercise the club option in 2027. It creates cost certainly - at a team-friendly rate - ahead of what is expected to be a monster free agent class next year headlined by both Shohei Ohtani and Manny Machado entering the market, and Juan Soto the year after.
These things have a way of averaging themselves out, however.
The next and most obvious step for the Mets to take is to complete a long-term contract extension with Pete Alonso. But that is likely to prove a little more challenging for them given his own circumstances.
But that’s not because Alonso may or may not want to be a Met for the rest of his career, nor does it mean he will or won’t sign an extension now.
Alonso is two years younger than McNeil and is projected to enter free agency at 30-years-old. And of course, he’s one of the most prolific power hitters in the game - his 146 home runs since 2019 and 380 RBI are both more than anyone has hit in baseball during that time, and he’s homered every 15.4 plate appearances, the seventh best mark during that span.
The point is, assuming he stays healthy, Alonso is likely to continue on this Hall of Fame trajectory as he approaches free agency, which should create a mega-marketplace for his services with a top shelf price tag.
So that likely means if the Mets want to get something done with Alonso now, they may need to enter a stratosphere similar to the one they were originally in with Carlos Correa and that 12-year, $315 million “agreement” they had with him before Christmas, and maybe go a little higher on the average annual value to get something done.
Of course, it’s not my money. And it’s not your money either. So it’s simple for us to say that’s a no brainer. If the deal averaged $28-31 million over 10 years, that could prove to be the free agent heist of the century if Alonso continues on this pace.
But one of my favorite sayings in this game is, it takes two to tango. And Alonso could see things differently as he watches his fellow union members cash in on even bigger dollars at similar ages both now and over the course of the next two winters.
Having said all of that, we are two months from opening day. One of these important hurdles have been overcome. There’s plenty of time before the start of the season for the two sides to figure something out that, while it may be less team-friendly than the deal McNeil got, works for both sides over the next decade.
Hot Stove 🔥
Cole Hamels is among those attempting a comeback in 2023 (New York Post)
Travis Jankowski and Clint Frazier are heading to the Rangers on minor league deals (official release)
The Braves extended manager Brian Snitker’s contract through the 2025 season (official release)
Pete Fairbanks received a three-year, $12 million extension from the Rays (official release)
The Nationals signed reliever Alex Colome to a minor league contract (Washington Post)