If Mets want to really change culture, sticking with Pete Alonso is a must | Column

Pete Alonso Mets
Pete Alonso (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Pete Alonso is on the path to becoming the greatest offensive homegrown product in New York Mets franchise history.

He’s going to smash every home-run record in the book if he hasn’t done so already. 

The 28-year-old set the single-season franchise record with 53 home runs in his rookie season in 2019. He became the first Met to record multiple 40-plus-home-run seasons when he smacked exactly 40 last year. 

In just five seasons since his debut, his 185 home runs are the most hit by any player in Major League Baseball. It also already ranks fifth in Mets history behind only Darryl Strawberry (252), David Wright (242), Mike Piazza (220), and Howard Johnson (192). With 39 home runs in 119 games this season, he’s not only on pace to move past Johnson this year, but he’s going to own the franchise record in the next two years.

The only thing that appears to be standing in his way is his own front office.

Billy Eppler Mets
Billy Eppler (left) with Justin Verlander (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Alonso is a free agent following the 2024 season and for a franchise that has been devoid of a generational bat that it developed and then kept for the entirety of a full, uninterrupted career, the Mets don’t seem very keen on securing their greatest power hitter ever.

General manager Billy Eppler and owner Steve Cohen have not gone as far as to say they’re committed to offering Alonso a contract extension to avoid free agency altogether even though the franchise is not short of the funds to dole out a deal that will likely be close to a decade long and over $210 million. 

Granted, the philosophy of the front office has pulled off a complete 180 due to an underachieving 2023. The richest team in baseball that spent nearly $1 billion last winter used the trade deadline to sell veteran, expiring contracts and build up the farm system to realign their contending window to 2025 or 2026.

Alonso’s contract would be a sizable deal to take on, but parting ways with him would leave a considerable void that would be nearly impossible to fill when trying to replace the threat his bat carries.

Then, during the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that New York — amidst a firesale that saw six prominent pieces dealt before the Aug. 1 deadline — and the Milwaukee Brewers held trade discussions centered around Alonso. While one Brewers official said a deal was within “field goal range,” someone from the Mets said talks didn’t get that far.

Pete Alonso Mets
New York Mets’ Pete Alonso hits a two-run home run off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Regardless, it’s a puzzling development for a foundational piece of the franchise whose support and admiration for his club has never wavered — even when he was asked about Rosenthal’s reports moments after Tuesday night’s loss.

“Being a Met, it’s the only thing I know,” Alonso began (h/t MLB.com). “There are so many people here — not just here in the big league clubhouse, but I came up with in the minor leagues — that have had such a positive impact on my career. It’s been phenomenal here so far.

“I don’t know what the future holds, but right now, I’m a Met. And I love being a Met. I take pride in putting on the jersey every day and representing the city of New York.”

For the first time in what really feels like ever, the Mets have an opportunity to have what so many other clubs in their direct vicinity have boasted for decades — most notably the division-rival Braves, who followed up the Hall-of-Fame career of Chipper Jones by building a ceaseless pipeline of young talent that has helped create a juggernaut this season, whether it be Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, or Austin Riley. 

This isn’t to say the Mets had their chances, but it always managed to go wrong.

They traded the likes of Nolan Ryan and Jeff Kent. Even Tom Seaver didn’t get to spend his entire career in New York. Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden couldn’t get the help they needed while in Queens and couldn’t find the straight and narrow path, ultimately destroying their careers with the Mets. David Wright’s Hall-of-Fame trajectory was derailed, too, but because of the onslaught of back issues that were far too debilitating to overcome. 

Pete Alonso can finally buck the 61-year trend to provide the organization and its fans with a homegrown lifer who certainly has the promise to make a legitimate push toward Cooperstown if the home runs keep flying off his bat at this pace. 

It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

Pete Alonso Mets
Pete Alonso (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

For more on Pete Alonso and the Mets, visit AMNY.com