A record-breaking debut campaign has earned Mets first baseman Pete Alonso a record-breaking salary for his sophomore season. At least, that’s how the team has framed the matter, as Tim Healey of Newsday reports on Twitter.
Alonso will earn $652,521 for the 2020 season — the highest ever for a player coming off his rookie season (excluding those who’ve signed multi-year deals). While it’s unclear how the team arrived at that precise figure — they wisely skipped on a chance to make a hokey reference to Alonso’s rookie-high 53 long balls — it has unquestionably left the young star feeling happy. He says he was “shocked and thrilled” with the offer.
Given his exuberance over the salary terms, Alonso obviously signed onto his contract with the Mets — as did all of the team’s other pre-arbitration players. That’s rather a different situation from last winter, when the club renewed Edwin Diaz at just over $607K. (That sum felt particularly low given that Diaz had only just missed out on qualifying for arbitration as a Super Two, which would’ve drastically increased his total pre-free agency earning power.)
The Mets have kept the good vibes going with Alonso ever since they decided to carry him on the Opening Day roster in 2019 — thus foregoing a chance to extend their control rights by waiting a few weeks to promote him. That decision wasn’t quite as difficult with respect to the 24-year-old first baseman as it would’ve been for a much younger player, but it surely built up some goodwill.
It’s tantalizing to wonder whether and when the Mets will explore a long-term deal with Alonso, who has been a star on and off the field with his big bat and gregarious personality. Just how much impact today’s salary news has on broader talks remains to be seen.
One may surmise that other teams around the game are less than thrilled with the Mets’ decision not only to grant this salary but to broadcast it. Pre-arbitration salaries continue to be an area of great disparity around the game. We’ve seen some nine-figure deals in the past for players on the cusp of arbitration. But players like Juan Soto and Jack Flaherty have recently been renewed for lower amounts than Alonso will receive despite excellent performance track records and greater MLB service time. As I explained in a recent video, this is a situation that really ought to be addressed in some form in the next collective bargaining agreement.