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Mets: Why Pete Alonso may benefit from starting 2019 in AAA

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Peter Alonso #20 of the New York Mets rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at First Data Field on February 23, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Peter Alonso #20 of the New York Mets rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at First Data Field on February 23, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Will Pete Alonso join the New York Mets on Opening Day? If he’s in Triple-A, the slugging first baseman may actually benefit more financially down the road.

The big debate heading into the end of Spring Training will be whether the New York Mets should or shouldn’t put first baseman Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster. By delaying his big league debut, the Mets can gain an extra year of control on the slugging first baseman. This gives them seven years before he reaches free agency, locking the potential future star into a contract with them for the rest of his 20s.

Alonso is ready to play at the big league level. However, he may actually benefit from starting off in Triple-A and letting year seven of his MLB career become one with arbitration eligibility.

You see, we don’t really know how things will change for baseball contracts in the next decade. For two winters now, multiple talented big league players have settled for lesser deals in both money and years. Who’s to say Alonso won’t suffer the same fate years from now?

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Alonso’s free agent market may be even worse for him considering the position he plays. First base is often deep with talent. Unless he’s an All-Star player consistently throughout his career, he may need to settle for a worse deal in free agency than one he could potentially win via arbitration. It has happened with many mid-level first basemen in recent winters. Alonso will have to prove he’s more than your average slugger to guarantee a big payday.

It’s a long way in the future. It’s also entirely up to the Mets on what they decide to do this spring. Alonso has no say in when he does make his big league debut and when he doesn’t.

Speaking of Alonso’s spring, he’s playing well. Real well. Spring Training statistics don’t often carry weight. For those on the bubble of a roster spot, it’s a little different.

Alonso’s exhibition numbers may carry even more weight considering his poor statistics from one Spring Training ago. Before he was on the radar of Mets fans from here to Timbuktu, he was a first baseman struggling in Port St. Lucie last March.

In 2018, Alonso went just 2 for 15 in limited spring action. He struck out 6 times and failed to pick up any extra-base hits. Spring Training statistics are usually as relevant as dates to the prom with your cousin; for only certain people, they matter.

The ideal situation for Alonso would involve an Opening Day roster spot in 2019 and in three or four years, the Mets extend him an extra year by buying out his first year of free agency. It’s not a move this organization typically does. If he’s playing well enough, it’s something they should consider.

Bitten by early extensions in the near-past, the Mets cannot be afraid to lock up their young stars early. Alonso is not a pitcher one tweaked elbow away from ending his career. He plays a position where you can keep a player relatively healthy.

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We’re years away from a long-term deal with Alonso, but decisions made over the next few weeks will factor into his future.

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