The Mets' Pete Alonso is greeted in the dugout after...

The Mets' Pete Alonso is greeted in the dugout after his two-run home run against the Diamondbacks during the fifth inning of an MLB game at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The most important move of Steve Cohen’s baseball year is complete. David Stearns will join the Mets as president of baseball operations upon the conclusion of the regular season.  A hire nearly three years in the making, the addition of Stearns gives the Mets what Cohen sought since he bought the team, a proven and experienced executive to run the baseball department.

Now, the real work starts. As Stearns prepares to start his new gig, here are five pressing questions facing him immediately.  

1. What to do with Pete Alonso?

Trade, extend or let his 2024 contract season play out?

Trading Alonso makes sense only through a strict analytical lens that would view first basemen as inherently less valuable than other position players and assumes a player of Alonso’s profile would age poorly. OK, fine, maybe a long-term deal wouldn’t look good in that one sense.

But from every other perspective, trading Alonso makes zero sense. He is a fan favorite, the face of the franchise and a homegrown slugger well on his way to rewriting the Mets’ record book. With a new contract and a relatively healthy career, he could finish as their best hitter ever — with a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Of course, it takes two to sign a contract. Alonso hasn’t said publicly what his preference is. The most likely outcome feels like Alonso reaching free agency, then re-signing, a la Brandon Nimmo, whom Cohen referenced in this context last month.

2. Will Buck Showalter be back?

Showalter didn’t want to engage on the subject this week after the Stearns news, but invited others to do so. 


Sure, we can do that. Whenever a new baseball operations leader comes aboard, the status of those below him — including the manager — becomes uncertain. That is true in the case of Stearns and Showalter. 

Stearns’ decision should be clear shortly after the season ends. His options include keeping Showalter (who is under contract for 2024), hiring the Brewers’ Craig Counsell (a pending free agent) or selecting somebody else. Milwaukee bench coach Pat Murphy was a candidate for the Mets’ job in the past (though that was pre-Cohen). 

3. Which of the youngsters are trustworthy?

It is unlikely that all of Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos prove to be legitimate members of the Mets’ core. That is less a diss of any of them and more of a statement about the realities of baseball and player development.  

The tricky part for Stearns is figuring out which can be relied on heading into 2024. Alvarez, the most successful of the bunch, can be penciled in as the Mets’ catcher. Neither Baty nor Vientos has wowed on either side of the ball; Mauricio has done well in his less than two weeks in the majors. Unlike Jeff McNeil, who was great following his mid-2018 call-up and was a lay-up of a 2019 option, none of Baty, Vientos and Mauricio have established themselves.

Answering this question is key to figuring out what the other offseason needs are. Do the Mets need a third baseman? Do they need a corner outfielder? How do Mauricio (and the versatile McNeil) fit in, and which holes will that decision leave?

4. What other front-office changes are in store?

General manager Billy Eppler is expected to remain as the No. 2 baseball executive under Stearns. Although the Mets have a couple of openings for department heads (notably player development and pro scouting), most of Eppler’s inner circle remains; it is mostly a mix of officials he hired from his Angels days and a motley crew of others brought on by his various predecessors.  

Stearns, surely, has his own potential hires in mind, whether that is Brewers people he liked or others in the industry. Cohen, surely, is aware of who some of these people are based on their pre-job offer conversations. And Cohen, surely, will give Stearns plenty of leeway to bring aboard those he sees fit — and it’ll probably be more than just the two department heads.

Front-office turnover is normal during any regime change. Stearns is at the top, but he won’t be the only noteworthy new name.

5. When do the Mets really, truly intend to compete for a World Series?

Really, this is the question that will guide all of the above, another topic Stearns and Cohen of course would have discussed in depth during the interview stage.

Cohen and Eppler have referred to the 2024 Mets as being “competitive,” a word choice that doesn’t exactly set the bar high. Stearns’ take here will tell us a lot about his intentions for this offseason and beyond.


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