The Mets hammered out a multi-year deal with one of their top arbitration-eligible players two weeks ago, guaranteeing Jeff McNeil $50MM to extend their window of control by as much as three seasons. General manager Billy Eppler predictably expressed openness to more deals of that nature. Of the other players on the roster, slugger Pete Alonso stands out as the most obvious candidate.
Alonso would certainly cost more than McNeil. He’s already racked up far greater earnings via the arbitration process and he’s nearly three years younger than his infield mate. While they’re each in the same service window — between four and five years of MLB time — Alonso’s in position to cash in to a much greater extent. If discussions between the Mets and his representatives at Apex Baseball get underway, there’s one obvious recent precedent to kick off discussions: division rival Matt Olson.
Within one day of acquiring Olson from the Athletics last spring, the Braves signed him to an eight-year, $162MM guarantee. The deal also came with what looks to be an affordable club option for a ninth season, an almost universal feature in Atlanta’s pre-free agency extensions. Olson’s nine months older than Alonso; he was entering his age-28 campaign last spring, as the Met is now. They obviously play the same position. Olson was in the same 4-5 year service bucket in which Alonso now finds himself, making for a direct comparison.
How do they align as players? Olson had a down season by his standards during his first year with Atlanta. The Braves couldn’t have known that at the time of his extension, however, so any comparison between the two has to isolate Olson’s production through 2021. At that time, he carried a career .252/.348/.511 line in just under 2400 plate appearances — offense that wRC+ calculated as 32 percentage points above league average after accounting for Oakland’s cavernous ballpark. Alonso has a bit under 2300 career trips to the dish and owns a .261/.349/.535 mark, with that production measured 38 points above par. The latter has a slight edge in power production, hitting home runs in around 6.47% of his career plate appearances against Olson’s nearly even 6% rate through 2021.
The power gap probably isn’t as significant as one might expect given Alonso’s status as a two-time Home Run Derby champion and his MLB-best 53 longballs as a rookie, though. Olson makes hard contact more consistently and hits the ball harder on average than Alonso does. Alonso has been a little better at translating his hard contact into home runs, though they’re each clearly elite power threats.
Both hitters have roughly average bat-to-ball skills. Olson carried a career 23.4% strikeout rate into the 2022 season; Alonso has fanned in 22.1% of his trips to the plate. Olson has a patient approach that gives him a slight edge in walks but it’s again a small gap. There’s also very little difference in their performance the year before hypothetical extension talks. Olson hit .271/.371/.540 with 39 homers and a 16.8% strikeout rate in 2021. Alonso’s coming off a .271/.352/.518 showing with 40 longballs and an 18.7% strikeout percentage. His on-base and slugging marks are a little behind Olson’s from the previous season, though that’s largely explainable by the league drop in offense last year. As measured by wRC+, Alonso’s offensive production was 43 points above par while Olson was 47 points better than average in ’21 — again, a minimal distinction.
Given their similarities as hitters, the Olson deal works as a strong starting point for gauging the terms it might take to keep Alonso. Olson has the advantage as a defender. He’s a two-time Gold Glove winner who’d gotten above-average grades from public metrics throughout his career, with Defensive Runs Saved crediting him as +34 runs compared to an average first base defender throughout his time in Oakland. Alonso’s glove isn’t as poor as some evaluators had worried during his prospect days, though public metrics paint him as a slightly below-average first baseman. He’s playable but doesn’t add the kind of value there Olson does.
There’s a reasonable debate as to whether Olson’s superior glove negates Alonso’s slight advantage as a power bat and makes him the better overall player. Alonso has a few financial advantages that might tip the scale in his favor in extension negotiations, however.
Alonso was in a better spot with regards to his final two arbitration years. He and the Mets have already agreed to a $14.5MM salary for the upcoming season; Olson had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $12MM salary for his second-to-last arbitration year. Considering those salaries escalate year-over-year based in large part on a player’s previous salary, Alonso likely would’ve had a similar edge for their final arbitration seasons. It’s not a huge difference but Alonso would likely have earned around $5-6MM more over his final two arbitration campaigns than Olson would have.
That’s not a factor for the would-be free agent years. Olson will be paid $22MM annually for the six free agent seasons he signed away. Considering Alonso’s a comparatively valuable all-around player, that’s a reasonable starting point. However, Alonso’s camp could get an edge from the spike in spending on star talent from this offseason. The best free agents generally surpassed market expectations. Rafael Devers, meanwhile, signed an extension that pays him $31.35MM for ten free agent seasons (though deferrals knocked its actual value to around $29.15MM).
Alonso isn’t likely to get to Devers money. The Red Sox slugger is two years younger, was a season closer to free agency and has more defensive value in his ability to play third base, at least in the short term. Still, the Devers deal is illustrative of the top of the market pushing up in the past 12 months — last spring, the Red Sox were reportedly pointing to Olson money as a comparable factor in talks with Devers but eventually went way beyond that — and Alonso’s camp could reasonably look for something a bit above the Olson average annual value in talks this spring.
It’s also at least worth considering how hard a bargain the Mets might try to drive in negotiations. Owner Steve Cohen and the front office have shown more willingness than any team the past two years to meet lofty asking prices to add star talent. That’s not universal (see: Jacob deGrom) but the Mets haven’t shown much fear of spending, even in the face of an astronomical luxury tax bill. The Braves have a high payroll but not one wildly different from the rest of the league, and this Atlanta front office has shown a knack for extending players at rates many outside observers find at or below market.
There’s room to tinker on the margins, likely to give Alonso the edge, though the Olson deal should be a starting point in any negotiations. Speculatively speaking, perhaps something in the range of eight years and $180.5MM (including this season’s $14.5MM salary) could be mutually agreeable. That’d tack on $166MM in new money for Alonso’s final arbitration season and six free agent years, running through his age-35 campaign. Estimating his final arbitration year around $22MM, it’d represent a $24MM average annual value for the six would-be free agent seasons. Alonso would move the extension market past a similar player in Olson, while the Mets would be able to keep another star in Queens for the foreseeable future.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Pete’s a big strong guy, just ask him, he’ll shamefully tell you how big & strong he is.
Guess what, there is always someone bigger & stronger than you
And he’s got one of the best nicknames in baseball. (As does McNeil.)
being big and strong is irrelevant. just ask stubby.
Stooge, interesting comment with not much relevance to the article, but interesting. Seems like you’re not a fan of Alonso. Care to post why?
I don’t think it has anything to do with him not liking Alonso. I think he was cracking a joke about a brawl the Mets had with the Cardinals and Alonso was taken down by some much smaller Cards coach named Stubbs. Then after the game was over Alonso seemed a little embarrassed and kept referring to himself as “I’m a big strong guy. I’m a big strong guy. I could put them in the hospital if I wanted to. I just didn’t want to.” or something along those lines. As far as first posts go on this site that is one of the best/funniest I’ve seen in awhile because it has actual reference to something funny instead of someone just saying “wow.” Anyone who doesn’t know about it should watch this youtube video though. It’s pretty hysterical and shows and explains the whole thing. It’s only a few minutes long and I cracked up the entire time I watched it. Anyone who can’t enjoy it probably isn’t a baseball fan even if they love Alonso. I have nothing against him and I think he’s great but the videoe is great too. Here’s the YouTube link for anyone who wants to see it. You can thank me later.
Stubby Clapp! His father had the nichname Stubby, his grandfather had the nichname Stubby, and none of them ever topped 170 lbs, soaking wet. Years after he played AAA ball in Syracuse, fans would still occasionally shout “STUBBBEEEEE!” as if invoking a supernatural spirit.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Again, there is always someone bigger & stronger, consider how you come off to folks like me & others.
Thanks Steve for the explanation and clip, it makes much more sense now. And sorry Stooge, I wasn’t aware of the incident. Funny AF now that I have the back story.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
The video showed me nothing more than a bully, and how big he was., keep him Mets, he belongs with you
Glass half empty/full. If Alonso turns around and knocks stubby out then the narrative changes, someone will always find the negative in the action. Alonso chose the high road, some might not have been so nice.
If he knocks him out he’s wrong, if he let’s him go it’s funny. I respect his decision making.
@Curly.. Happy to do so. Thanks.
His grandfather had the nickname Stubby. His father had the nickname Stubby II. He had the nickname Stubby III. Now his son has the nickname Stubby IV. I can’t wait to see what Stubby 4 can do.
You Can Put It In The Books .
Apparently, Curly Is The Angry Stooge.
@ Cohens- I do think the post game interview was kind of funny and it appeared Alonso’s pride may have been hurt judging by his reaction but I tend to agree with you. I think he was surprised because he was just trying to back up his teammates and looked like he got singled out for some undeserved reason. This may be sacrilege around these parts but I think Arenado was more at blame than anyone. The Mets got hit twice and took it like men but Arenado doesn’t even get hit and starts a fight. Arenado was looking to start a fight IMO and that was after his team hit the Mets twice and the Mets never hit anyone. It reminds me of when Manny Ramirez started that playoff fight against the Yankees when he never got hit. In the circumstances, what does Arenado have to complain about? He didn’t get hit but his team hit the Mets twice.
The only funny thing is that Alonso will never be able to take that interview back. “I’m a big guy. I’m a big strong guy. I’m a big strong guy. I could easily put them in the hospital if I wanted to, but…”
It’s just too perfect and could be written into a blockbusting comedy movie.
But I agree. I never saw Alonso do anything but be a good teammate there. It’s just the postgame interview that makes it funny. If anyone was in the wrong it was Arenado or possibly a Cardinals pitcher that may have done it intentionally but we didn’t know.
Nothing to be embarrassed about he got dragged from behind by 2 guys that he wasn’t even paying attention to. The comments didn’t do em any justice tho but the bullpen guys tryna get I thought was way more hilarious seeing Gallegos jump the fence why they all are bottlenecked at the unopen gate priceless
In a lot of ways, Alonso is still very much a kid. Kids say kid things. I think some people are just making too much of it.
I’m constantly amazed at how deeply MLBTR writers dive into these stories. Good job, guys!
These are the strangest comments.
Alonso is a guy I can’t imagine with another team’s uniform on.
deGrom Texas Ranger
My split-second reaction when I saw extension and Alonso in the headline was they had extended him. Even though I’m not a Mets’ fan, I’m desperate enough for stuff to happen that a big extension would be enough at this moment. Too many relievers look likely to hold out. Usually, a player needs a contract more than a team needs the player (a player gets paid once, while a team has 25 others on the roster and minor league replacements). Just like how the strike (call it whatever you want) last year resulted in Correa and others signing below-market deals, it seems time gives teams more leverage here.
TB Rays break tradition to bring native Pete Alonso back home with their largest FA contract ever to christen a new beautiful ballpark —
— is a headline you will never read.
He’s definitely testing free agency. If only to get a huge payday from the Mets.
Well, if you believe Rays had the highest offer to 1B Freeman…could have an interesting entry to the bidding.
Do you actually understand, “definite”?
deGrom Texas Ranger
A Rod style
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
As a Braves fan, I wouldn’t want him any where near a Braves uniform.
Weird comment after reading the article which was a comparison between Olson, the Braves existing first baseman, and Alonso. Of course the Braves wouldn’t want another first baseman, they just signed Olson to an 8 year contract.
Better teammate than the famous #49 John Rocker.
Fortunately, no one asked you. Thanks tho. Do you change your handle every 2 mins?
Are you saying you can imagine him with another team’s uniform off?
Wayyyyy tmi my friend.
Imagine how good this guy could be if he actually got in shape. He’s strong as hell, but could be in much better shape.
Lol, the dude is 6’3″ and 245 pounds. So when has his size been a hinderence to his performance?
@Ella B, not an issue now. He posts, but health in his 20s does not equal health in his 30s. Conditioning doesn’t seem to be his thing. The history of the game is filled with plenty of younger players assuming they can continue to take the field at the same rate post 30 as they did in their 20s. They weren’t always right. Now, in fairness, he may begin to take it more seriously as he ages.
I get you Rob but it will be up to Alonso and the Met’s staff to keep him in peak shape into his thirties if they decide to invest in him going forward. I think to preemptively assume that he’ll begin to slack off on the conditioning as he enters his 30s is presumptive at best and as a baseball fan, I’m hoping Alonso has a long, productive career. He’s been a really good ambassador for MLB.
I think he’s doing just fine as is.
Good article! Get it done!
Thank you for this. I have been waiting for MLBTradeRumors to do the potential Alonso write-up. I would like to think the Mets and Alonso’s camp will come to an agreement but I have a feeling it could get complicated. Will be one of the Mets storylines this year and going into next offseason.
He has two years remaining, so less of a storyline this year. It will be one next offseason and heading into 2024 if no extension is reached.
C Yards Jeff
I dunno guys. Find it hard to believe the FO didn’t pitch extension to Pete before McNeil. His agent didn’t like what they were offering, so pivoted and took the record 14.5 deal. Hope it ain’t so. If Pete moves on, who’s left to hit dingers in 24?!
deGrom Texas Ranger
Alvarez and Lindor
And Baty …
… for Syracuse
You Can Put It In The Books .
Dream on Billy Boy
I’d rather have Olson based on his skillset as I believe it will age a little bit better. Alonso is in his peak years now and has been remarkably consistent, so I don’t see upside, but he doesn’t need that, so the question is how long can he maintain his 140ish OPS+ seasons? I could see him begin to trend down quickly after he hits his 30s as he doesn’t have the strike-zone skills of someone like Judge, although his contact rate is decent for a slugger. Slow, not good with the glove, really better as a DH, but passable for now. Injuries and missed time will likely creep more into the equation. I wouldn’t go beyond a seven year extension, and even that might be filled with disappointment by the time he’s 32.
I don’t believe Olson’s contract is relevant as the market is now much more inflated and both Ohtani and Soto will push top-end contracts even higher in the next couple seasons. Alonso will be looking for an AAV in the $30MM+ range, maybe a 7/225?
Olson’s defense is much more valuable. If I’m remembering correctly, there was a part of the book Moneyball that Beane was mad about because it included some research the A’s didn’t want revealed to the general public, including a bit about how important Derek Lee was to the Marlin’s WS win because of how many infield errors he was saving with his massive frame and quality defensive skills. I’m not sure Chapman would have won that first platinum glove without Olson saving so many of his offline throws.
1B defense is very underrated by the analytics community, but MLB teams seem to be once again coming around to understanding its value to the entire infield. Part of the problem is 1B defense has consistently been the most difficult position to rate properly. Teams want power and production from the position, but the good teams are increasingly focused on the defensive aspect.
Actually it’s rated eminently sensibly by the analytics community, which has been pushing for Keith Hernandez’s induction into the HOF to no avail on the basis of 1B defense.
Agree that I’d rather have Olson, but that’s not really an option for the Mets. Citifield is moving the fences in. I expect this to be one of Alonso’s better years in terms of power. Although not quite as good as the juiced ball season.
Interesting. I missed, or forgot, the news they were moving the fences in. I know Toronto is doing similar, although perhaps on a bigger scale. Alonso’s power is real, I’m not questioning that. He’s one of a handful of players that can be locked for 35-40 HRs.
Oh yeah. My comments aren’t meant as a slight on Alonso. He’s a true slugger.
North of 200 mil or walk away
Judging on the contracts we have seen for top players this offseason, something like 10/224.5 including this year might be what his deal ends up being. Longer, more total dollars than anyone thought, and at a lower AAV.
You’re allowed to start a sentence with the word “meanwhile.” I promise you it’s ok..
BenBenBen are you sure? Meanwhile I will await your reply.
Just gotta add the comma after “meanwhile” in your sentence, Darth.
It’s the extension time of year. Soon it will be Tommy John Surgery time of year. It’s the new age baseball traditions!
Biggest waste of money this guy is. Stupid eppler will give him the $250mm eppler special. Olson is light years above Alonso who hit his ceiling already. Muts ruined it by not signing freeman and trading Alonso for decent young pitching. But again Muts window is closed after they miss playoffs this year. At this point the question is how long before verlander and scherzer both go down with significant injuries and this guy senga is a bust. Then you have Quintana and Carrasco pitching to the tune of a 6+ era. This is the year marlins finish ahead of Muts. Ah ha.
@icantstandyous… and every METS player will get divorced, go broke and live unhappily ever after.
@icantstandyous As an actual Mets fan, I agree with almost just about everything you said. Why go out and sign 40 year old injury prone pitchers? Makes no sense. Carrasco is one of the worst pitchers in the game right now. Quintana was terrible these past 3-4 seasons until this year. With Senga I think it was too big of a gamble for a guy whos never pitched in the majors. Billy Eppler is one of the worst gms in baseball
Anytime you find yourself agreeing with an obvious troll, it’s time to start reevaluating yourself.
36 years of disappointment and still counting. It does that to you….
Alonso is going to be the greatest Met ever, bigger than Tom. A 10 X 30 extension would seem about right, and with new rules an higher averages, that would be as much of a steal Atlanta got with Olson. They can come to some price for next year before the extension kicks in probably 30 million to sweeten the extension money. If they can’t extend him, I sure hope Detroit can get him.
deGrom Texas Ranger
I’d say he’s even better than Wright, Beltran, and Santana.
No way. I like Alonso a lot. He’s a true slugger, but Beltran is a HOFer in my eyes. The Astros scandal may hurt his chances, but his Mets career was unbelievable. Alonso is a long way away from that.
An extension above 4/$100m is likely to end badly for a guy who is going to be 30 the year he reaches FA and who over the last 3 seasons averages 3.6 WAR per 650 PA. Even if you do Pete the favor of kicking 2020 out of his resume it only goes to 4.2 WAR per 650 PA for 2021-22.
He’ll be 30, and his defense is already in decline. By the time he’s a FA he rates to be -12 to -15 at 1B, where the first number alone would make him the worst full time 1Bman in the game. In short he’s likely to be starting out as a 3 win DH as he heads into his 30s.
Pete’s likely to be a one-dimensional slugger by 30, given how close he is to that now. How do people think 1Bmen age? Where are the 1Bmen at 27 who can’t field and who are good but hardly historically great hitters at, say, 35? They’re typically out of the game, but we’re somehow hearing inane numbers for Pete, nonsense such as 7/200 and 8/250, but he’s no Freddie Freeman. He’s not even Matt Olson, a better player whose defense will keep him at 1B long after Pete’s a DH, and Matt’s only slated to get 6/$132 (minus the value of the team’s option at the end with no buyout owed) for his age 30-35 seasons.