NASHVILLE — Here’s the latest on contract extension negotiations between the Mets and star first baseman Pete Alonso: There aren’t any.
The sides have not discussed at all this offseason the possibility of a long-term deal that would keep Alonso in Queens, a source with knowledge of the situation said. And it’s not clear whether the Mets plan to engage him on that subject.
Alonso, who turned 29 on Thursday, is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2024 season.
At the winter meetings this week, president of baseball operations David Stearns and Alonso’s agent, Scott Boras, expressed the same sentiments they did previously. The former indicated he still doesn’t plan to trade Alonso, the latter said Alonso is ready to listen if the Mets want to talk.
“I'm not going to comment on any specific player, trade interest,” Stearns said. “I'll just reiterate Pete's a very good player and I expect him to be a Met on Opening Day.”
Boras said: “I spoke to David. We just told him we’re all ears. If he wanted to talk to us about anything, let us know.”
Alonso hired Boras at the start of the offseason, one year before he was set to reach the open market. Boras encourages his clients to go to free agency, since that often is the best way for a player to maximize his earnings. Most but not all follow his advice.
The Alonso situation is reminiscent of Brandon Nimmo’s. Another popular, homegrown player, Nimmo, too, switched to Boras heading into his last season under team control.
The outcome: Preseason extension talks, if they existed at all, seemed not to get very far. After Nimmo made the rounds and spoke to interested teams, including at the winter meetings, he and the Mets agreed to an eight-year, $162 million deal — the second-largest in Mets history — at this time last year.
Owner Steve Cohen referenced that resolution when asked about Alonso in August.
“[Alonso is] still with us for another year. We hope we work things out,” he said then. “Even with Brandon, we worked things out in free agency. Hopefully, we get a few shots at the apple and try to figure it out.”
Barring a long-term agreement, Alonso’s salary for 2024 will be determined via the arbitration process in January/February. He will be due a substantial raise from the $14.5 million he made in 2023.
Last season, Alonso’s .217 average and .821 OPS represented a relative down year, but he still totaled 46 home runs and 118 RBIs. He endured a deep slump after returning much quicker than expected from a left wrist bone bruise and sprain in June.
MLB still is planning to finish and release its investigation into former general manager Billy Eppler and the Mets by the end of the year, as commissioner Rob Manfred said in October.
The investigation included allegations about misuse of the injured list.
Stearns said this week that he did not know if a potential punishment would impact the Mets.
Edwin Diaz is “fully healthy,” manager Carlos Mendoza said, nine months after he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee, requiring surgery and sidelining him for the season.
But when asked whether Diaz would have a normal spring training, Mendoza did not say yes, instead noting the Mets would have to come up with a plan.
“Talking to the pitching coaches and our medical department and even with Edwin, just to make sure we put a program in place here, maybe we use that as like rehab assignment,” he said. “But it's something that we have to take our time [with] and make sure that he's bouncing back. But the communication, line of communication between us and the player, in this case Edwin, is going to be important.”
A new Stew?
Stearns mentioned DJ Stewart first (followed by Mark Vientos) when discussing the Mets’ internal DH options.
Stewart, 30, had a strong three months for the Mets in 2023 — .244/.333/.506 — after previously never coming close to such a level of performance.
Whether that was real and sustainable remains to be seen.
“Anytime you have a player who didn't have immediate success at the major league level or consistent immediate success like DJ, when they do have that period of success, you want to see them continue,” Stearns said. “So the conviction of evaluation, the conviction of whether he can do it going forward, is just going to grow the more he does it at the major-league level.”
Although he is a bat-first player, as Stearns described him, Stewart also serves as rightfield insurance in case Starling Marte again is plagued by injuries.