Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson is running away with the NL home run crown this year. New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso will, at best, need to settle for second-place.
Where Alonso could overtake Olson is in salary. The Braves wisely locked up Olson immediately upon acquiring him from the Oakland Athletics in a trade. Meanwhile, Alonso inches closer to free agency and a front office regime change sounds some alarms.
The addition of David Stearns to the front office as President of Baseball Operations makes a decision about Alonso's future one to watch most closely. Does he Chaim Bloom the fans by trading Alonso ala Mookie Betts or win good faith by extending him? The longer it takes, the less of a bargain the Mets will be able to get.
A Pete Alonso contract bargain for the NY Mets is anything under $150 million
The sweet spot for where we should expect the Mets to pay Alonso should be in the $150-175 million range. Several factors are at play. Mainly it's the number of years which is a point of contention, depending on who you ask.
Alonso is practically guaranteed a contract north of $20 million per year, probably something closer to a $25 million AAV. Six years already gets him to $150 on the higher end. A bargain, at least by these parameters, seems out of reach.
The mistake the Mets seems to have made is allowing other first baseman to get deals when Alonso was already making his case for an early extension. Olson's deal didn't seem all that low at the time. Freddie Freeman's contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers wasn't outlandish either. Olson’s was an eight-year deal worth $168 million. Freeman’s came out to six years and $162 million.
Because both have performed so well and are two of the top players in the game, questioning if they're underpaid is fair.
What about Alonso? He doesn't have the defensive skills as them. This year, he's well behind in production, too.
Time has worked in his favor. Contract values rarely go down. An extension for Alonso this winter will be around two years after those two star first basemen received their contracts. Natural baseball inflation each year already puts him in the same salary range as those two even if he’s behind them in terms of production.
Alonso does appear to enjoy being a member of the Mets and perhaps a slight hometown discount can create a future debate about whether it was him or the ball club who got the better side of the deal. When this happens, it usually means everyone’s a little happy about something.