With Spring Training fast approaching, many Mets fans have had one final request to finish off a memorable offseason. It includes both Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso signing extensions to remain in Queens for the foreseeable future.
Friday afternoon brought news of the Mets and McNeil agreeing to a four-year extension worth $50 million. Based on past production, New York got a huge discount, but both parties still win. The Mets get one of the game’s best contact hitters under contract for multiple years, while McNeil locks in a huge payday and generational wealth for his family.
It’s not surprising that this deal was the first one to get done. Between him and Alonso, it’ll be the one with a shorter term and for less money. Signing McNeil now would seemingly provide plenty of time for an extension to get worked out with Alonso prior to Opening Day.
So, what should an extension look like for the Polar Bear? That’s been a hot topic most of the winter, but especially since news of McNeil’s deal hit the internet. Some common comparisons include Freddie Freeman (six years, $162 million) and Matt Olson (eight years, $168 million). But I think if an extension gets done, it’ll break the $200 million plateau.
That’s a number only one Mets player has surpassed in team history. It was Francisco Lindor’s $341 million deal on the eve of 2021 Opening Day. Getting that kind of payday would put Alonso in rare franchise air, but it’s a spot he deserves.
He’s set the Mets’ franchise and rookie home run record, MLB’s rookie home run record, and the Mets’ single-season RBI mark. Assuming health and normal production in 2023, he’ll crack some franchise top-10 lists, too.
Alonso has registered two seasons of at least 40 homers and 120 RBI in his career. No other Mets hitter has done that. He’s proven to be the type of homegrown power hitter the franchise hasn’t seen before. The first baseman has slugged 146 homers with 380 RBI since debuting in 2019. Both of those numbers are the best in baseball.
Outside of being one of the league’s premier power threats, let’s also look at how valuable he is to this lineup. The Mets’ offense produced baseball’s third-highest wRC+ in 2022. A lot of that had to do with Lindor and Alonso hitting in the middle of it. But when it comes to who is the most valuable, Alonso is the centerpiece of manager Buck Showaler’s order.
If you take out Lindor, the offense gets noticeably worse. If you take Alonso out, though, who is going to be the big homer and RBI threat? Many people spent all winter talking about how New York needs another power bat, and that’s because he’s really the only legitimate one.
Alonso’s performance (11.9 fWAR) has been worth a total of $95.1 million, according to FanGraphs’ Dollars metric. This includes three years of surpassing the $25 million mark (2019, 2021, 2022). Polar Bear has earned just under $9 million during this time, with the majority of it coming last season ($7.4 million). The Mets also clearly know they need to pay this man after agreeing to a $14.5 million salary for 2023 — an arbitration record for first basemen.
Spotrac pegs Alonso’s market value at $32.1 million per season over a 10-year span. His comparable players include Lindor, Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), and Mookie Betts (12 years, $365 million).
Those numbers seem steep. But, the 28-year-old is a likable homegrown player who is a proven and elite power bat. An extension within the range of 8-10 years for $200-plus million is probably a very real scenario. Judging from how the Mets have operated with some bigger contracts (like Brandon Nimmo’s), they may prefer a longer term to manipulate the luxury-tax impact.
For those people who think this would be ridiculous because New York can acquire premier power via free agency, consider this. Shohei Ohtani will be a legitimate target, but there are hurdles to an agreement coming to place. Players like Manny Machado and Juan Soto could also be options, but they’ll be highly sought after.
As we saw with Jacob deGrom heading to the Texas Rangers, there are no guarantees in free agency. Alonso is already in Flushing, clearly loves being a Met, and thinks the best is yet to come for the organization. Now is the time to lock him at a pretty penny because he’s that valuable to this club in 2023 and into the future.
Plus, if they don’t do it now, the price tag will likely only get more expensive.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.