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Mets’ David Stearns says long-term deal with Pete Alonso unlikely before free agency

 WBN  |    Feb 12th, 2024 6:55pm EST

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — The New York Mets realize a long-term deal with Pete Alonso is unlikely before the star first baseman is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Alonso agreed last month to a $20.5 million, one-year contract that avoided arbitration. He switched agents last fall to Scott Boras, who usually encourages players to maximize value by testing the open market.

“I think that’s probably the most likely outcome,” new president of baseball operations David Stearns said Monday, two days ahead of the Mets first spring training workout.

“Look, when you have a really talented player, who’s really good, who’s entering his final year of club control, who happens to be represented by Scott Boras, these things generally end up into free agency and we understand that,” Stearns added. “This is an organization that’s dealt with that before with really good players and has ended up in a perfectly fine spot.”

A three-time All-Star, Alonso hit a career-low .217 last year with 46 homers and 118 RBIs, down from a .271 average in 2022, when he hit 40 homers and tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs. Alonso set a rookie home run record with 53 in 2019, when he had 120 RBIs.

“I have not seen Pete here yet, haven’t talked to him here yet, but what we’re going to talk about is, look, let’s go out and have a great year together,” Stearns said. “You go out have a great year. Let’s have a great year as a team, and if we do that we’re both going to be set up, the organization and Pete, are going to be set up very well going into the offseason.”

Taking over a team that failed spectacularly last season, Stearns is optimistic New York can reach the playoffs this year despite a payroll retrenchment.

“As I talked to our players throughout the offseason, really from the moment I took the job, they wanted me to know how good they think the team is,” Stearns said. “They wanted me to know that they didn’t think the way ’23 played out was indicative of the talent level on the team.”

Convinced they were a World Series contender following an offseason spending spree, the Mets finished fourth in the NL East at 75-87 after a midsummer selloff that dispatched former Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer along with closer David Robertson, outfielders Tommy Pham and outfielder Mark Canha and reliever Dominic Leone.

New York’s offseason moves includes agreements with center fielder Harrison Bader, right-handers Luis Severino, Jorge López, Michael Tonkin and Austin Adams, and infielder Joey Wendle. The Mets acquired right-hander Adrian Houser and outfielder Tyrone Taylor in a trade with Milwaukee and right-hander Yohan Ramirez from the Chicago White Sox.

Right-hander Shintaro Fujinami’s pending deal is likely to be finalized Wednesday, when the Mets can starting using the 60-day injured list to open roster spots.

“We expect to compete for a playoff spot and have exciting baseball at Citi Field in September and October,” Stearns said. “Success can be defined in a lot of different ways, but certainly our expectation going into the season is that we’re going to have a quality team that wins games and is a competitive playoff-caliber team.”

All-Star closer Edwin Díaz is expected back after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee during the World Baseball Classic.

“I was incredibly fortunate during my time in Milwaukee to have really good closers throughout the tenure there, and it makes building the rest of your ‘pen and allowing those guys to feel comfortable in their roles a heck of a lot easier,” Stearns said.

Stearns expects the Mets will continue to monitor the workload of 31-year-old right-hander Kodai Senga, who was runner-up in NL Rookie of the Year voting last year. Senga was 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA over 166 1/3 innings. The Mets have several pitchers with options.

“We do have this flexibility to really go to that sixth man in the rotation when we want,” Stearns said, “so I think there will be times this season we’ll do that.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb