The Mets should avoid a Jackson Chourio-type of contract with their prospects

The Mets have no need to take the Milwaukee Brewers approach with extending their top prospects.

New York Mets v Miami Marlins
New York Mets v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The New York Mets have acquired and developed young talent in their farm system this past season. Even with Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty graduating from prospect status, the Mets' farm system still ranks middle of the pack in all of baseball. Luisangel Acuna and Drew Gilbert are on the cusp of making their major league debuts, while Ryan Clifford, Jett Williams, and Kevin Parada are more 2025 priorities. Thanks to Steve Cohen's willingness to eat contracts at the deadline, the next nucleus of baby Mets is just on the horizon.

The Milwaukee Brewers recently came to an 8-year contract agreement worth around $80 million with their top prospect Jackson Chourio. The Brewers made this obligation before Chourio had even played a major league game. On the surface, it makes sense for a small-market team to try and save money down the road by extending the young outfielder now. Chourio has an incentive to earn $80 million no matter how well or poorly he performs. Even if this contract does work out for the Brewers, why doesn't every major league team take this approach?

The Mets have no need to lock up prospects long-term at this point.

Giving contract extensions to players who have not played a single major league game is a major risk. For starters, not every top prospect is guaranteed to perform well early in their careers. Take Amed Rosario as an example. He hit .252 in 2020 with a slugging percentage under .700. In 2021, he earned $2.4 million in arbitration. Imagine the Mets in 2017 had given Rosario an 8-year $80 million contract extension when he was a top-five prospect in baseball? They would have been paying Rosario way more than what he earned in arbitration.

Secondly, top prospects can very easily become busts. The Mets have had plenty of those in recent memory: Fernando Martinez, Gavin Cecchini, Dilson Herrera. Just because the scouts rave about their potential at 20 years old does not mean these players will become Pete Alonso. Keep this in mind about prospect rankings: Rafael Montero was deemed a "future ace" in 2014, while Jacob deGrom was a "reliever".

The best model the Mets should follow is the Atlanta Braves formula: extend young players during their pre-arbitration years and buy out a couple of years of free agency. In 2019, the Braves extended Ronald Acuna Jr. 8-years $100 million in 2019, just a year after he won rookie of the year in 2018. That contract seems like a major steal for the Braves, but they already knew in 2019 that Acuna was going to be a star. The Mets should do this with Alvarez. We know he has star power and gives maximum effort behind the plate. If the Mets extended Alvarez in the next year or two, that contract could be a major steal when he reaches arbitration. Hopefully at this time next year, we advocate the same thing for Baty and Gilbert should they show this type of potential.