SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — New York Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns anticipates that slugger Pete Alonso will be his Opening Day first baseman next year as the 28-year-old approaches his final season under team control.
Speaking Wednesday at the general managers meetings, Stearns stopped short of saying Alonso would not be traded this winter but gave every indication Alonso would start his last season before free agency with the Mets.
“Pete’s a really good player,” Stearns said. “And he’s been a good player and a high-producing player for a long time. We’re fortunate to have him. I’m looking forward to watching him play this season. And I’m not going to predict the future.”
Alonso has hit 192 home runs in five years in the big leagues, including the shortened 2020 season. He also has won the home run derby competition twice, establishing himself as one of the best right-handed power hitters in the game.
“They view Pete as a core part of their team,” agent Scott Boras said not long before Stearns addressed reporters. “We let [Stearns] know that when it comes to the ‘Polar Bear,’ we’re not in contract hibernation. … We’re open to listening. Pete has directed me to listen to what they have to say. We’ll go from there.”
The Mets aren’t saying much publicly about extending Alonso past the 2024 season. There have been mixed messages regarding their desire to contend next season, which could make Alonso more attractive to trading. Stearns is getting calls.
“He’s a very good player who has one year left on his contract,” Stearns said. “Of course teams are going to ask about him.”
Alonso made $14.5 million last season through the arbitration process and is due about an $8 million raise for 2024 in his final season under the system before hitting free agency. Boras praised more than just his client’s massive home run totals, which included 46 last season.
“Everybody knows about his extraordinary power,” Boras said. “But the thing about Pete is his durability. You look at the number of players that can post and do what he does, and the other thing is, his commitment to defensive improvement where now he’s become a rise in defense where he’s at league average and getting better and better every year at that spot.”
Both Boras and Stearns are new to Alonso’s situation. The former just became his agent this offseason, while Stearns was named the top decision-maker in New York last month. He was asked whether he was up to date on previous conversations between the team and player.
“I have a broad sense,” Stearns said. “I’m sure Steve [Cohen] has a much more specific sense. If I need any catchup, I know where to go for the details.”
Boras is hopeful Stearns will take to his new surroundings and newfound resources after going from working in the league’s 30th market to its first.
“Working in a New York environment is very different than the Milwaukee environment,” Boras said. “I think he has grasped the concept of his ownership. He’s communicated those things to us and let us know what they are. We exchanged a lot of dialogue and opinions. As to the specifics of it, I’ll keep that confidential.”
Stearns is doing the same as he begins his new job in the New York media spotlight. Trading a star player would be a controversial start to his tenure, but as Alonso approaches free agency without a new contract, a tough decision might have to be made. That could mean soon or even midseason if the team falters.
“Those are all things that we’ll have to take into account as we look at him,” Stearns said. “We understand how important power is, and we also have to take a look at the other parts of his game.
“I still expect him to be our Opening Day first baseman. I do not anticipate him getting traded.”