JUNE 19: The interest in working out a long-term pact is mutual, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. In his latest 10 Degrees column, Passan writes that the A’s “have expressed interest in an Alonso extension,” noting that Oakland is keenly aware that there aren’t many clear-cut buyers looking to acquire a first baseman or designated hitter. With a likely buyers’ market for first base/DH options this summer, the A’s could see more value in working out a deal to retain Alonso.
JUNE 16: While most pending free agents aren’t willing to discuss extensions once the season begins, A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he hopes to remain in Oakland long-term and is open to forgoing free agency by inking a midseason extension.
Alonso cites a number of rising young players in Oakland, listing the recently promoted Matt Chapman and rising prospects such as Franklin Barreto and A.J. Puk as reasons that he feels the A’s can be competitive in the near future.
“I think that there is a great chance that I stay here,” Alonso tells Rosenthal. “I really do mean that. The guys they have, the young core that they have, are all guys I can relate to. … A lot of players here say, ‘I want to play well here, do well and get out.’ I actually want to play well, do well and stay here.”
The 30-year-old Alonso is in the midst of a breakout season at the plate, and in a separate column he details to Rosenthal the amount of work he put into overhauling his swing and approach at the plate this season. Alonso sought out players such as Joey Votto, Carlos Beltran, Eric Hosmer and Danny Valencia, among others, in an effort to gain as much information and input on his swing as possible. Votto in particular seems to have been helpful to Alonso, who was considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball while making his way through the Reds’ farm system. (Both Votto and Valencia go into great detail with Rosenthal in explaining some of the advice that they had for Alonso, making for a very interesting read.)
The results of Alonso’s change in mechanics and approach speak for themselves. Through 211 plate appearances, he’s posted a sensational .306/.398/.645 batting line with a career-high 17 home runs. Alonso’s fly-ball rate is roughly 18 percent higher than his career average, and he’s made significant gains both in hard-hit rate and in walk rate. The uptick in production has come at the cost of some contact, as he’s striking out at a career-high 22.7 percent clip, though that’s obviously been a more than worthwhile trade-off.
Alonso looked like a legitimate non-tender candidate this past winter, and it was surprising to some (myself included) that Oakland even decided to retain him at a $4MM rate that is now a massive bargain. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd explained when profiling Alonso’s free agent stock, he’s been the most productive among the first basemen set to hit the open market following the 2017 season and seems to have a reasonable chance at landing at least a three-year deal, if not a four-year pact on the open market.
Of course, he’d forgo that opportunity to sign a long-term deal with the A’s, though there’s still no certainty that Oakland will reciprocate the interest or that the two sides will be able to agree on a price. Josh Reddick, for instance, had similar sentiments about Oakland last year and had hoped to remain in green and gold on a long-term deal, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a price tag. Ultimately, he was flipped to the Dodgers along with Rich Hill for a trio of pitching prospects. Alonso could very well meet a similar fate, though in light of his comments, it seems all but certain that his agents at MVP Sports will at least explore the possibility of an extension with Oakland’s front office.