Enough with all this stupid talk about trading Pete Alonso. Just stop it. Oh sure, the concept makes great fodder for the sports talk radio stations and podcasts, and some beat writers have speculated or opined on the idea, but if anyone in the Mets organization is somehow enticed to bring in more prospects for the farm system by trading their best position player, their best power hitter, baseball’s most prolific home run hitter in the past five years, they should be banished to another planet.
The Mets have a future Hall of Famer in their midst, that is now clear. He’s on the fast track, and short of debilitating injuries, Mets fans will have another reason to travel to Cooperstown in another 15 years or so. So where is all this talk of trading Alonso originating? Of course, money is the root of this evil. Pete’s due to become a free agent at the end of next season, so if the Mets are smart, they’ll negotiate with him during this offseason as if he were a pending free agent and get a deal done.
It’s their own fault. This columnist said three years ago, when all the talk was for a deal for Jacob deGrom, that they needed to get Alonso on a long-term deal as well, or it will cost them when the time comes, and sure enough, here we are. Look at the Braves for a blueprint. One of the reasons they’re so good is their ability to recognize talent at an earlier stage and locking up those players long term years before they reach free agency. You would think money is not an issue in the Citi Field offices. The principal owner’s name is no longer Wilpon, it’s Cohen, and the piggy bank is full.
The Mets overpaid to get Max Scherzer here on a three-year deal. They matched that extravagance to import Justin Verlander. But for a home-grown talent like Alonso, they’re going to check their wallet? And while this is not yet the time for a post-season autopsy, had Edwin Diaz not thought he was on a trampoline during a post-game celebration in the WBC, and other personnel mistakes not been made, perhaps both of those future Hall of Fame pitchers would still be Mets and they’d be planning for a possible playoff push.
Alonso turns 29 in December, and 30 as he hits free agency – if it gets that far – so obviously age is a major factor in any long-termnegotiations. So how much and for how long are the questions. Is a six-year deal too short? Is a ten-year deal too long? Is a Matt Olsontype deal (8 years, $168 million) a realistic comp? Or is Alonso thinking along the lines of Aaron Judge’s nine-year $360 million deal?
Perhaps there is some common ground somewhere in-between. But one thing is certain. Trading Alonso for prospects would furtheralienate a fan base already disenchanted by the failures of this season and the white-flag policies at the trading deadline. Oh sure, when such deals are made, the media quickly labels the prospects as one of the top five or top ten prospects in a particular team’ssystem, or their overall rating in all of minors. But the odds of those prospects bettering the team that traded for them are still a roll of thedice. Did the Mets get better when they traded Tom Seaver? No! They got good prospects, including a former Rookie of the Year – Pat Zachry –and players who actually contributed to the team to a degree, but did they get another future Hall of Famer in return, or anyone who led them to the postseason? No!
Did the Mets get better when they traded Nolan Ryan, another future Hall of Famer? No! Here was another case of giving up on a young talent too soon, who went on to win 324 games in the majors.When just about any team somehow thinks they’d be better off without their best player, it often backfires. Did the Arizona Diamondbacks get better when they traded their star first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, in December of 2018? No! Sure,they got three good “prospects” from St. Louis. One, Carson Kelly, turned out to be a serviceable catcher who is now with Detroit. They also received Luke Weaver, a pitcher who lost 19 of 28 decisions in four years with AZ, and another “hot” prospect, Andrew Young, who is now out of baseball after batting .205 in two years with the D-Backs.
And it has taken Arizona until this season to return to respectability with a possible shot at a postseason berth. They finished second in 2019, but then fifth, fifth, fourth, and now second once more in the NL West. Did the Colorado Rockies get better when they traded Nolan Arenado, ironically, also to the Cardinals, in February of 2021? No! They got five prospects – ooh, quantity! – three of which are still in the minors, so maybe the jury is still out, but the ones who made it to the majors,Austin Gomber, and Elehuris Montero, are certainly not future Hall of Famers. Gomber’s got a losing record with Colorado in his parts of
three seasons as a Rockie (23-25, 5.21 ERA), and Montero, in the equivalent of a full season – 362 ABs in three years – has a .243 average, with nine homers and 39 runs batted in. Whoopee!As for the Rockies, they continue to be also-rans, finishing fourth and fifth in the subsequent years. There’s a million examples. Did the Red Sox get better when they traded Mookie Betts? No! They’ve been jockeying with the Yankees for last place this year, although they have an outside shot at making the playoffs.Did the Nationals get better when they traded Juan Soto or Scherzer and Trea Turner? No! They’ve been in last place almost the entire time since, and if it weren’t for the Mets, they’d be in last place again right now. Some say those prospects are beginning to flourish, but how long with Nationals fans have to wait? Another two or three years?
Can anyone name the last time a team traded who was considered their best player, a serious Hall of Fame candidate, and received a future Hall of Famer – as a prospect – in return? The days of Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock, or Larry Andersen for Jaff Bagwell (look ‘em up, kids) are few and far between. Maybe once a decade such a deal occurs.By the way, whatever happened to player for player deals? Those kinds of transactions are also now rare commodities. If the Mets do make any kind of a deal this winter, what has Mets GM Billy Eppler shown that he’s capable of making the right deal. While the prospects acquired at the deadline have been praised throughout baseball, here is a guy who traded four players to the Giants last year– including J.D. Davis, for a player to be released later – Darin Ruf, and somehow thought Daniel Vogelbach was the answer at DH. He also picked up Tyler Naquin last season (.203 as a Met), and that deal didn’t make a major improvement either. And somehow, with players such as JD Martinez, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Aroldis Chapman in the free agent bin this past winter, none of them were enticed by Mets money to join the orange and blue.
The bottom line is that there is a much, much better chance at a deal involving Alonso would become a nightmare than a key-to-thefuture type deal, so don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. Just bite the bullet and sign the face of the franchise and put a smile on the faces of millions of Mets fans. Case closed.
– Andy Esposito
NY Sports Day