Despite a depressing 0-6 road trip right after selling at the trade deadline, the Mets indeed remember how to win baseball games. They even won two out of three against the Cubs to start their homestand this week. As usual, first baseman Pete Alonso had something to do with it.
He slugged at least one homer in each game. He’s already up to five dingers this month in just nine games played. That’s a huge improvement from the six he hit in 23 games during the month of July.
His game-tying two-run blast on Wednesday night was his 35th of the season. Alonso is already among franchise home-run royalty, but that blast helped him make more history:
Pete Alonso made Mets history last night, becoming the first player in franchise history to have 4 seasons with 35+ homers
Here are all of his 35th dingers 🐻❄️ pic.twitter.com/3QEyVrnCwS
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) August 10, 2023
His recent hot streak gives him an outside shot of reaching the 50-homer plateau once again. Alonso has now slugged 181 home runs since debuting in 2019. That’s the most in MLB during that span and the fifth-most dingers in Mets history. He’s just 11 behind Howard Johnson for fourth place.
We’ve quite literally never seen a Mets hitter perform like this before. And we’ve certainly never seen a homegrown Mets player display this kind of power. But of course, the current state of the team brings his long-term future into question.
The comments general manager Billy Eppler made about 2024 being a “transitory year” have made people wonder: will the Polar Bear stick around in Queens or get traded away? As it stands right now, he’s set to hit free agency at the end of next season.
New York did entertain the idea of trading Alonso prior to the deadline, but nothing got serious. USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale seems to think it could happen over the winter, too. When addressing the media in Kansas City, team owner Steve Cohen didn’t say much about the status of Alonso’s future in New York:
Steve Cohen was asked about Pete Alonso's future as a Met:
"We love Pete as a Met. He's an integral part of the Mets. He's still with us for another year. We hope we work things out." pic.twitter.com/VJdbxLiG10
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 2, 2023
Eppler has taken the same route whenever asked this type of question. Alonso has also declined comment in the past. This is probably because both sides are either currently in the middle of negotiations, or they’ve tabled them with an agreement to re-visit this winter.
But, look — there’s just no way Cohen allows Pete to play for another team. He’s very much a core part of this organization in multiple ways. I can see the logic of how trading him could net a large return for the future. It’s not like Alonso is in his late 30s, though. He’s finishing up his age-28 campaign, and while his batting average isn’t where he wants it to be, the power certainly hasn’t gone anywhere.
Premier power hitters don’t just grow on trees, folks. While Cohen’s money can help the Mets more than ever before, it’s hard to find that kind of ability. Alonso has been the centerpiece of this offense since at least the start of last season because nobody in the lineup can do what he does.
He’s an anchor to build around, not a piece you should be selling off. Anything that’s said publicly is probably nothing more than a negotiating ploy or an attempt to not show all their cards. That’s normal.
One would imagine Alonso’s camp is using Matt Olson’s eight-year, $168 million deal with the Braves as a basis for negotiations. Even before the 2023 season started, I thought Pete was worthy of being the franchise’s next $200 million player. I still think that, and I’m convinced it’s going to happen.
Even if the Mets aren’t seriously competitive until 2026, that’d be Alonso’s age-31 season. There’s been nothing to suggest he can’t still be an elite producer at that time and help the club reach its goal of winning a World Series.
Cohen mentioned that things eventually worked out with Brandon Nimmo despite him hitting free agency. Mets fans didn’t like seeing him go on the open market, but based on his past performance and injury history, it was understandable. However, there are no guarantees in free agency, as we saw firsthand with Jacob deGrom leaving for the Texas Rangers.
A prime opportunity to get a deal done is this winter. That’ll allow all parties involved to avoid constant questions about an uncertain future next season.
Playing baseball in New York is different than in any other market. Some players can handle the pressure and some can’t. We’ve seen it plenty of times. Alonso has proven he belongs and has become part of the heart and soul of this club. I’d be absolutely shocked if he plays for anyone else in the near future.
Even if his extension is a little bit of an overpay, it’s just money. Cohen has plenty of that, and it’d be worth it to keep the Polar Bear right where he is.