SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — With Pete Alonso’s potential free agency a year away, he is ready to listen to whatever contract extension the Mets want to offer — if they want to offer.
Amid trade inquiries from other teams about their star slugger, Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns declined to say Wednesday whether he planned to engage Alonso and his agent, Scott Boras, about a long-term deal this offseason, noting he prefers to keep those conversations private.
Boras, though, said during his news conference at the general managers’ meetings that Stearns “certainly views Pete as a core part of their team.” That was his takeaway from what he described as “a long conversation” with Stearns earlier in the week.
“We just kind of let him know that when it comes to the Polar Bear, we’re not in contract hibernation,” said Boras, rattling off one of the punny one-liners in which he takes great pride. “We’re open to listening. Pete’s just told me, directed me, just listen to what they have to say. We’ll go from there.”
Because Alonso is under the Mets’ control for the 2024 season — his salary to be determined via the arbitration process — neither side is under pressure to come to an agreement this offseason. It is possible, even probable, that they do nothing of substance on that front, let Alonso’s contract year play out and negotiate in earnest around this time next year.
But because of Alonso’s status as the face of the franchise and one of the preeminent power hitters in all of baseball, this storyline will hang over the Mets until it is resolved.
“I’m not as creative in describing discussions in meetings as Scott is, so I’ll let him handle that,” Stearns said. “Pete’s a really good player. He’s been a good player, a high-producing player on the Mets for a long time now. We’re fortunate to have him. I’m looking forward to watching him play this season. And I’m not going to predict the future.”
Other clubs are curious, too. Stearns acknowledged that he has received recent interest about Alonso’s potential availability via trade but reiterated what he said on his first day with the Mets last month: He expects Alonso to be the Mets’ Opening Day first baseman.
“I do not anticipate him getting traded,” Stearns said. “I don’t draw lines in the sand and I’m never going to say never, but I absolutely think it’s fair: I don’t anticipate him getting traded.”
He added, regarding teams checking in: “Sure, yeah. He’s a very good player who’s got one year left on his contract. Of course teams are going to ask about him.”
The start of the offseason has brought a clean slate for Alonso contract talks, since the lead negotiator on both sides has changed since last season. Alonso hired Boras, moving away from his previous longtime agents at Apex Baseball. And Stearns, of course, replaced Billy Eppler as the Mets’ head of baseball operations.
“Neither of us have been involved in this discussion previously, so we’d both be coming at it new,” Stearns said.
Alonso’s eventual contract, with the Mets or otherwise, is a virtual lock to be the kind that Stearns almost never dealt with while running the small-market Brewers: huge.
In seven seasons in Milwaukee, Stearns had one nine-figure deal, Christian Yelich’s nine-year, $215 million pact (signed at a time when Yelich was two seasons from free agency). But that was more a push from the owner, Mark Attanasio, than it was something Stearns specifically sought.
“There are some deals at the high end of free agency that have worked out very well for all involved,” Stearns said, speaking generally of megadeals. “And I think there are others that maybe haven’t. The lesson there is do your homework and do your best to make the right investments.”