Pete Alonso is a great home run hitter and most of us are thrilled he’s on the team. Yet there’s a difference of opinion on how good he is and how hard the Mets should try to re-sign him as he’s a year away from becoming a free agent. Few would argue that the Mets missed the boat by not looking to lock him up earlier. We could say that it was business as usual for the cheap Wilpons. But Steve Cohen took over three offseasons ago and no long-term deal has come since then, either.

Edwin Diaz and Kodai Senga inked 5-year contracts. Brandon Nimmo got an 8-year deal. Francisco Lindor received a 10-year extension. Shoot, even Starling Marte got four years. But the Mets have gone year-to-year with Alonso during both the Cohen years and the Wilpon ones. Fans have no problem saying the Wilpons were cheap. But the majority of those same fans are reluctant to criticize Cohen for, well, anything.

You don’t get any kind of hometown discount from a player a year away from hitting free agency. So, the question becomes: How many years should the Mets invest into an Alonso deal? And there’s a bunch of things that have to factor into such a deal. Fortunately, the team’s ability to pay is not one of them. Still, if you want to praise Cohen for being a successful businessman, you can’t fault him for factoring in business considerations before agreeing to a new deal.

At this point, we have to address a reality. Since Alonso didn’t get a long-term deal once Cohen took over, we have to assume that they made the business decision that it wasn’t in the club’s best interest to do so. Either that or Cohen’s an idiot. And since we established that Cohen walks on water, that can’t possibly be the right answer.

So, what are the reasons to make Cohen, or anyone else, leery of extending Alonso?

There are two or three things that jump immediately to mind. First, the plan since Day 1 of Cohen taking over, the idea was to run a high-dollar payroll while waiting for the farm system to start pumping out prospects. Then the hope was that the expensive players could be replaced by cheaper internal options. Diaz, Nimmo, Lindor and Senga aren’t going anywhere in the immediate future. The most expensive players left are Marte and Alonso. And Marte has what now is an immovable contract, one with an extra year of control compared to Alonso.

The Lindor extension while not addressing Alonso should have been a wakeup call to those wanting to see Alonso retire as a Met. The Nimmo deal should have been like waving smelling salts under everyone’s nostrils. With few high-end pitching prospects expected to emerge from the system, the Mets were going to need to spend for hurlers at the top of the rotation and then look to cut payroll with hitting prospects replacing expensive position players.

Next comes two things that are in fact separate issues but we’ll combine them for simplicity. One part is: How valuable is Alonso today? And the other part is: How valuable will he be in the future? It’s easy for fans to see Alonso’s gaudy HR and RBI numbers and to conclude that he’s elite. But as important as power is – and it’s extremely important – it’s not the only thing that counts in determining a player’s value.

Even with all of his power, Alonso has posted fWAR marks of 3.3, 3.8 and 2.8 in the past three seasons. That’s a very good, productive player. It’s just not elite. Alonso’s career-best mark came in 2019, when he hit 53 HR. That year, he posted a 4.4 fWAR. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if that will be the most-productive season in Alonso’s career.

Conventional wisdom used to be that a player’s offensive peak happened between the ages of 28-32. Now, people who study the question put that peak at 26-30, instead. That’s the general rule although there will always be outliers. But if you’re going to make a six or eight or 10-year commitment, you don’t want to be banking on outliers to make it a tolerable, much less good deal. That’s not what a smart businessman does.

So, let’s take a look at recent first basemen, with how they did on the other side of 30. Using the time frame of 1990-2023, while looking at 1B with at least 3,000 PA, here are the top HR hitters and how they aged:

Albert Pujols – At age 23, Pujols put up a 9.5 fWAR. From age 24-29, he put up marks between 7.7 and 8.4. At age 30, his production dropped to 6.8 and then at age 31, his last with the Cardinals, it fell to 3.9 for the year. Pujols played 11 more years in the majors after leaving St. Louis and his best year was a 3.3 fWAR, the only time he cracked a 3-WAR season. The best thing that happened for the Cardinals was the Angels giving Pujols a bigger contract. They got stuck with his decline seasons, after the Cardinals enjoyed all of his peak years.

Jim Thome – In his last two years with Cleveland, Thome put up a 5.4 fWAR and a 7.3 mark at age 31. He then left in free agency and signed with the Phillies. And while he didn’t have the same extreme collapse that Pujols did, the pattern was the same. Thome had good years, posting fWAR totals in the fours in three of his next four seasons. Thome played six additional years and put up a combined 10.1 fWAR in that period. He never cracked a 5.0 fWAR after he left via free agency, much less a 7.0 mark.

Rafael Palmeiro – He had good years up to age 37, which is later than either Pujols or Thome. But he also played in the height of the Steroids Era and has a failed drug test after wagging his finger at Congress and declaring that he was clean.

Frank Thomas – He had four seasons with an fWAR in the 7s during his 20s. He played 11 more years and had three seasons where he eclipsed a 3.0 mark, one in the 3s, one in the 4s and topping out at 5.9 at age 32.

Miguel Cabrera – He had his best season at age-30, when he posted an 8.6 fWAR. Cabrera played 10 more years and was still very productive at ages 31-34, when he put up a combined 14.9 fWAR. For most players, averaging 5-WAR per season would be fantastic. But it was a significant drop from where he was. And the less said about the other seven years, the better. But he finished with a negative fWAR in five of those years and the other two he failed to crack a 1.0 mark.

Carlos Delgado – He peaked with a 7.4 fWAR at age 28 and was still very productive with a 5.3 mark at age 31. Delgado played six more seasons after that and only once cracked a 3-WAR year. You probably remember 2006, when he hit 38 HR and drove in 114 RBIs for the Mets. It was an Alonso-type season. Delgado posted a 2.8 fWAR that year. A player who could post a 7-WAR season in his 20s was a sub-3 player in most of his 30s, despite the gaudy HR & RBI totals.

Mark McGwire – The Andro King put up great numbers thru his mid-30s. But he could only play 89 games at age 36 and was done at age 37.

Adam Dunn – You probably think of him as an outfielder, as he played 1,113 games in the OF, compared to 528 at 1B. But he’s very similar to Alonso, with a bunch of 40-HR seasons and not-very-impressive fWAR totals. He peaked with a 5.3 mark at age 24. He had a 3-WAR season at age 30, when he hit 38 HR with 103 RBIs. He played four more seasons after that, with a combined 0.0 fWAR and was out of baseball after his age-34 season.

Jeff Bagwell – Here we have the most-compelling case to extend a long-term deal to Alonso, as Bagwell was a productive player thru his age-36 season. But he was a better all-around player to start with and Bagwell had an 8.0 fWAR season to his credit at age 29. Here were his fWAR totals starting at age 32: 5.9, 5.2, 4.8, 3.7, 3.6 and 0.0 at age 37.

Jason Giambi – In his last year with the A’s, Giambi put up a 9.2 fWAR at age 30. He left for the Yankees and had three very good years but nothing compared to his previous heights. He topped out with a 6.6 fWAR in his first year in pinstripes. Giambi played 13 more seasons in the majors after leaving Oakland. He was a 3-WAR player at age 35 in 2006. For the final eight years of his career, Giambi had a combined 2.6 fWAR.

These were the top 10 HR hitters among 1B in our time period, a group that includes three players in the Hall of Fame and two more in Pujols and Cabrera who will likely join them when eligible. All 10 of these players were considerably more productive in their 20s than they were in their 30s. A couple were able to stave off declines due to using substances that are now banned. Several others were productive – although nowhere as good – in their early 30s.

All 10 put up seasons better than Alonso’s best to date. These are simply better all-around players. But if these better players couldn’t maintain their overall production in their 30s, why should we think that Alonso can?

It’s certainly possible that Alonso can be like Delgado and keep cranking out seasons with big HR and RBI numbers. It’s just that those seasons aren’t as good as they seem on the surface. And 2006 Delgado and 2023 Alonso turned in sub-3.0-fWAR seasons. You can say you’re paying for Alonso to hit 40 HR and if he does that, he’s worth the money. I cheered for Dave Kingman so I get the sentiment.

However, we know better in the 21st Century and paying for HR instead of overall production is a losing proposition.

My hope is that the Mets and Alonso can agree to a shorter-term contract than what others propose. Some want to see him get the six years of Freddie Freeman or eight years of Matt Olson. To me, that’s just asking for trouble. The Mets will already be paying for the decline years of Lindor and Nimmo. Do they need to add Alonso to that list?

And that doesn’t even take into account that Lindor and Nimmo are adding excess value in the front half of those deals. Lindor provided roughly $16 million of excess value over what he was paid this year. Nimmo provided roughly $17 million of excess value in 2023. When they’re in their decline, they still have a shot to be worth their contract. What are the chances that Alonso signs a deal in the Freeman/Olson territory and provides excess value from the $25-million plus he would get per year in that scenario?

It’s fun to watch Alonso bat, knowing a 450-foot homer could come on any swing. It’s also fun seeing a homegrown guy succeed. But this is a classic battle between the heart and the head. The heart loves everything about Alonso and wants him here the rest of his career. The head knows that Alonso isn’t as valuable as his HR & RBI numbers suggest and that he’s not going to be a more-productive player as he ages.

Because my heart loves the idea of Alonso in a Mets uniform, my hope is that they can work out a deal to carry him thru his age-34 season. But if Alonso is bound and determined to get a deal of six years or more, my head steps in and says that’s a deal breaker.

David Hong mentioned yesterday that Darryl Strawberry was his first favorite player. In his age-28 season, Strawberry put up a 6.5 fWAR. He left for the Dodgers after that year. It was heartbreaking to see him in another uniform. But the Mets easily got the best years of Strawberry’s career and let other teams pay for the memory of what he once was.

It’s easy to point out how the struggles that Strawberry had make comparing him to Alonso silly. And while that’s true in the larger scheme of things, the takeaway is that you don’t want to get left holding the bag, paying a player for his performance earlier in his career. And that remains true whether that player is Strawberry or Dunn or Delgado or Pujols.

With perfect hindsight, the Mets would have signed Alonso to a 10-year extension after his rookie season. That would have kept him under team control thru his age-34 season. If we check the archives, we’d likely see ChrisF advocating for that very thing, even if the salary he proposed was outlandish for a pre-arb player.

The Wilpon-era Mets erred in not locking up Alonso to a team-friendly deal when they had the chance. Now it’s up to Cohen not to add a long-term deal that doesn’t make business sense. Just because Cohen can afford to carry mistakes doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do it.

We need an adult in the room, someone not afraid to make an unpopular decision if it’s the right one. And you better believe that not coming to terms with Alonso on a long-term deal will be unpopular with the fanbase. Perhaps the new GM will be that guy, although it would completely shock me if that decision was entrusted to him or her. Maybe David Stearns will have to be the adult.

Or perhaps Cohen has already made that decision, given the one-year deals to date.

25 comments on “On signing Pete Alonso to a long-term extension

  • Paulc

    I agree with your analysis. Alonso is good, not elite. And the risks of signing a 29 YO player to an 8-year deal are obvious. Another team will give Alonso a 6-8 year deal and then he’ll play there.

    But who plays 1B with similar or better production if the Mets do not sign him? We can’t let him walk without considering the alternative.

    • Brian Joura

      Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Alonso is still under team control in 2024. And who knows if some internal candidate will step forward to claim the position for 2025.

      And even if no one does – it’s first base, the easiest position on the diamond to fill. The Mets could reach into their past and emulate the move they did when they signed Todd Zeile and moved him from 3B to 1B. Zeile put up a 2.7 fWAR in 2000, which replaces the 2.8 mark that Alonso put up this past season.

  • Footballhead

    This article is yet another reason and example of why I will stay with Mets360. Just an outstanding job in analyzing the Alonso situation. I am of the mindset that Alonso should not be given a long term contract of any sort. He’ll be getting about 22m$ in arbitration for 2024, and I don’t think he’ll be worth that kind of money if that’s his average for 6-8 more years (132-176million total). We all know that he’ll end up with an 8 year $30m with somebody, and I do think that Cohen has already made the decision not to do that.

    I think/hope that Alonso will have a better 2024, and that it’ll help the Mets be a playoff contender, especially if another big bat is added this off season*. It will be a PR disaster when the Mets do trade him at the deadline next year (or to the Cubs this off season); but if the Mets make the playoffs without him, most all will be forgiven.

    *While some suggest Soto be added to the Mets, I don’t think that will happen. Didn’t he turn down a major $$ extension with the Nationals, and that’s why he was traded? Yes you can drool over having Soto and Alonso in the same lineup, but then your talking 70 million dollars+yearly for two players! Oh yeah, we would still need pitchers.

    • Brian Joura

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Soto turned down a 15/$440 deal from the Nationals. We don’t know what he objected to – the length or the AAV. He’ll likely exceed that AAV in his last year of arbitration and few doubt that he’ll top that AAV in his next contract, even at fewer years. Would love to see him on the Mets. And his lifetime .836 OPS versus LHP takes away some of the concern that his addition would make the club struggle even more versus lefties. But it’s hard to see how his acquisition would help the team’s payroll get to a more-manageable level.

  • NYM6986

    I liked your comparison to other 1B over the last many years, and the reality is some of those players were simply stars and played on teams where they had lineup protection. It’s not all about the HR but you need a big HR bat in the lineup and Pete is ours.
    Hard to imagine this team without Alonso. As the team’s cleanup batter, can anyone think of a strong batter who has regularly hit behind him? I can’t. So he chases pitches out of the strike zone with the desire to get on base. His 151 strikeouts is way to high as are his 65 walks too low. He was however hit by a pitch 33 times according to the Internet. I have come around to OPS being a strong indicator of a player and his .821 was pretty strong this season. Then I revert back to batting average and his .217 mark was unacceptable. Two more hits per week and he is batting .270 and that means he moves runners along, knocks in more runs and scores more runs. Power hitters record lots of Ks, and cutting him down to 125 gives him 26 additional times to put the ball in play. Let’s also consider his play at 1B where he can be seen saving runs every game scooping up crappy throws from across the diamond. While 1B is one of the easier positions to fill, he has made himself into a strong defender. And then there his attitude and the way he cheers this team on.
    I can see an offer of 7 and $224 million or $32 million a season. The per season amount tops Freeman, and Olson, Machado, Betts, Harper and so on. At almost 29, it means he will be on the roster till age 36. I can live with that. If he can’t, then I guess he has to go, but the Mets need to get back some MLB ready talent and strong prospects in return. His addition in a number of other lineups could put those teams over the top. The Mets are not there yet until they give him some lineup protection with a player that opposing pitchers would rather not face.
    The Mets need a new hitting coach to step in and keep hitters doing what they do when they are going good.
    Can’t wait for the off-season to start.

  • T.J.

    Nice rational write-up. Alonso is a hotwire topic for Met fans. Simply discussing “objectively” the possibility that the Mets will pass on him brings up emotional responses in fellow Met fans. From a business standpoint, it is likely sound to let Pete play 2024 and go from there. It is clear that there is a gap in how he values himself and how the Mets value him. Ultimately, as was the case with deGrom, the marketplace will value him, and Cohen/Stearns can decide if they agree. The risk us having him walk with no return, so the other side of the question is what will he bring back this winter. If it is not to the Mets liking, then there is minimal risk in letting him play out 2024. I suspect Pete’s market value in prospect for 1 year of control will not be to Stearns’ liking or Met fans’ liking, but diligence is required.

    Yes, it will be a “distraction” in 2024, but that comes down to how well the player can manage that both publicly and internally. The NY Giants have a very similar situation with Saquon Barkley. I’d extend him if he’d take the security of something like a 7 year deal for $190-$200 million. I’d hold off or look for alternatives if his Boras-led demands are significantly higher. I suspect the gap will be difficult to bridge.

  • Metsense

    Offer Pete Alonso 6/$150m contract starting in 2024. If he doesn’t accept it then trade him. He isn’t an elite superstar. Witnessing this year, makes me feel that he probably fall off in his last two years of the contract.
    Hypothetical question. Would the 2024 Mets improve with Lourdes Gurriel Jr (261/309/463/772, 24 HR, 82 RBI’s) and Jeimer Candelario (251/336/471/807, 22 HR, 70 RBI’s) minus Alonso (217/318/504/821 46 HR, 118 RBI’s) plus a SP#2 and a prospect?
    Branch Ricky said to Ralph Kiner “we can finish in last place with you or without you”.

  • TexasGusCC

    Brian, another homerun for you. Great writeup! As for Alonso, I’ve been wanting to trade him and Dom Smith since they both broke out three years ago, arguing that first base is the easiest position to fill. But, you know what I’ve learned with that state of mind since then? 1. Other clubs feel the same way; 2. It isn’t as easy to fill 1B with the quality I want as I think it is. [Actually, I think second base may be easier because nothing is really expected if a second baseman and gloves are all the the place. But…]

    It’s true that Alonso really doesn’t have much protection and as Metsense put it the other day, he has alot of nerve wanting answers from Cohen as to why he let Showalter go. See my comments about Scherzer chirping at mid-season and then see how he got traded within 24 hours of those comments he made after his last start. I’m pretty sure Cohen doesn’t handle disrespect very well. But, do the Mets need more prospects? No. So:
    1. Trade him for equal value pitching that is also a year from free agency (i.e. Corbin Byrnes).
    2. Offer him a shorter deal at a higher AAV (i.e. 4/$104).
    3. Let him play out his year and sign him in free agency like they did Diaz and Nimmo, when he gets to see his own value (which is what Eppler said they may do last month).

  • Mike W

    Brian, this is your best work. I have been thinking a lot about this. That is why I asked you where Alonso stood with fWAR. From 2019-2023, Alonso had an fWAR of 14.5, which is ranked 42nd amongst position players. He was behind Lindor, Nimmo and McNeil. The Mets know this.

    You have proven that once players hit 30, their best years are behind them.

    So, why would we want to sign Alonso to a big contract? His decline may have started already.

    Yes, he is fun to watch, and we have never had a home run hitter as prolific as Alonso. But, the head and data have to win out on this.

    I think that once Alonso signed with Boras, his fate on the Mets was sealed. Boras will push him to run through free agency.

    Stearns is smart. He has to build a team where the cumulative fWAR has to be more than what it is now. If it is true, and their are some suitors who will drool at the opportunity to get Alonso, I think Stearns will trade him. Maybe we get major league ready assets back or maybe we get a top notch prospect or two. Maybe we flip the assets we get back for Soto. And if the sum of the parts is a better team, then it is a no brainer.

    Alonso has a real chance of turning into Adam Dunn or Mark Reynolds with a lot of home runs and not much else.

    If we added a Soto, we could live with a Justin Turner at first base for a year because the sum of the parts would be greater than what we have now.

    • TexasGusCC

      Mike, when I looked at the offensive WAR on Fangraphs’ Leader Boards, I saw that Alonso was 43rd in MLB. Lindor was 17th (and got an A- grade, w o w!) and Nimmo was 23rd. So, it speaks to Alonso’s offensive output as being specific. Still, it does have value and I don’t believe Alonso is as bad on defense as WAR shows him to be, on both websites. Still, I would sign him short term but if he rejects that, as Brian says, then the Mets may choose to cash him in. Full disclosure, I liked the Lindor deal because he was still 27, but I didn’t like the Nimmo deal because he was already at 30. But, I am very happy to see Nimmo work hard to expand his game.

    • Brian Joura

      Thanks for the kind words!

      My opinion is that people need to stop thinking of Scott Boras as some unreasonable, unethical super villain. Sure, he works hard to get his clients the best-possible deal. But, that’s his job! Brandon Nimmo switched to Boras before becoming a free agent and that didn’t keep him from re-signing with the Mets.

      My guess is if Boras looked less like a bridge troll and more like a GQ model that people wouldn’t be so negative towards him.

  • Mike W

    If you look at the last three years, Akonso’s 9.9 fWAR, is 48th among position players.

  • James T OBrien

    Brian, it seems to me that you’ve made an excellent case for trading Alonso this winter. Since it’s reported that the Cubs really want him, I’d love to see Alonso bring back Pete Crow-Armstrong. Then Nimmo could move to left field and be an elite defender there as he ages. I’d also be interested in the Mets acquiring the top two left-handers in the Cubs system.

    I have a question. You and others would like to see Soto on the Mets, but he is a well-below-average defender. I’d be interested in an analysis why that’s not a reason to pass on him.

    • TexasGusCC

      A potential trade written on Clutchpoints:

      Cubs receive: 1B Pete Alonso

      Mets receive: RHP Ben Brown (Cubs’ No. 5 overall prospect), LHP Jackson Ferris (Cubs’ No. 8 overall prospect), RHP Javier Assad, RHP Adbert Alzolay

      I really like it because I really like Ferris. The two relievers at the end are good also, but can I get another starter instead? Don’t want PCA back and lighten the pitching package, which the Mets need.

      • Brian Joura

        I wouldn’t pull the trigger on that deal but I think that’s an ok offer.

        Just like with the Astros, just because a guy ranks X in their system doesn’t mean he’s incredibly valuable. You have to know how the farm system ranks. As for Brown, if I posted his AAA numbers this year and put them next to Mike Vasil’s AAA numbers, you’d have no idea which one was better. And they’re both the same age and pitched the same number of innings at AAA. Vasil’s a legitimate prospect but he probably doesn’t crack the Mets’ top 10.

        I agree with your assessment of Ferris being the better get. The question to me is if he’s a good enough prospect to headline this type of trade. And that’s why I don’t pull the trigger. I’d focus on a deal with fewer players but one with a better top prize.

        Maybe Cade Horton and Ferris.

        • TexasGusCC


      • T.J.

        Thanks Gus. It seems like a high price but if the Mets got that return I’d take it and immediately get on the phone with the Padres and work a deal for Soto.

      • James T OBrien

        I’m, curious, besides ‘lightening the pitching package, is there any other reason you wouldn’t want to see Pete Crow-Armstrong back with the Mets?

    • Brian Joura

      In a perfect world, all players excel at all phases of the game.

      But the reality is that all players have faults, some bigger than others. At the end of the day the idea is to assemble the players who do the most to push your team forward. When I was stumping for Francisco Alvarez to make the Opening Day roster, one of my arguments was that while he wasn’t going to be as good defensively as McCann and Nido, his total contribution was going to be better. Alvarez’ offense + defense + whatever else you want to consider was going to be far superior to the same calculation for any other catcher the Mets had at their disposal.

      Soto’s total contribution is likely going to be better than any outfielder the Mets can put out there. Sure, maybe if all of the planets align, Nimmo might be a shade better. But even if that’s the case, there are three outfield spots. There’s simply no way his expected overall production wouldn’t be a huge positive for the Mets.

      Speaking specifically of defense, as recently as 2021, Soto was a positive defender. But the last two seasons were bad. Now, maybe we can excuse 2022 with playing for a bad team for the first time and also being traded for the first time. And last year he switched positions, which surely didn’t help. My opinion is that he’s not destined to be this bad defensively going forward. But even as bad as he was defensively last year, he still put up a 5.5 fWAR. And 5-WAR players don’t grow on trees.

      Finally, Acuna is a co-favorite to win the MVP Award. And his defense is no better than Soto’s.

      • James T OBrien

        Thanks for the analysis on Soto.

  • ChrisF

    I got an idea, let’s trade the only 1B on the team, for who knows what and maybe we can bring back Dom Smith, who is so awesome. Or better yet, I think we sign Vogelbach as the “anchor” at 1B and let him hit his way out as an every day player. I suppose if the Mets sign Alonso, the implication is there is no adult in the room. Alonso being a star for the long term is no guarantee at any level, but when he team has so many holes that are not 1B, I cant see the compelling need to create another hole. I mean this isn’t trading over-the-hill triple over-valued starters that did pretty much zero for the team.

    Sure the Braves got rid of Freeman, who’s ended up being as awesome as ever, and got very lucky with landing Olson.

    Maybe Alonso will just keep hitting like David Ortiz.

    • Paulc


    • T.J.

      What is your absolute ceiling for a Pete contract in terms of years and dollars? And, In the absence of a long term deal, would you prefer to roll the dice on keeping him for all 2024, seeing how the marketplace values him, and deciding at that point whether to offer more or move on?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 100 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here