Cubs believe they can use Christopher Morel as 'centerpiece' for Pete Alonso if Mets trade him: report

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns has been clear on numerous occasions this offseason that he expects Pete Alonso to be the team's Opening Day first baseman.

And while some of that can be chalked up to exec-speak -- no GM or president of baseball operations is going to completely telegraph his or her plan -- it stands to reason that Stearns would be kind of sidestepping the Alonso/trade question if he thought there was a serious chance of a trade. Of course, he hasn't been.

Additionally, Alonso's new agent Scott Boras said at the GM Meetings that he was open to discussing an extension with the Mets before Alonso hits free agency after the 2024 season. And Stearns said he would have those talks with Boras.

Still, the outside buzz surrounding a possible Alonso trade hasn't stopped, especially as it pertains to the Cubs as a possible landing spot.

On Thursday, ESPN's Jesse Rogers -- citing sources familiar with the Cubs' thinking -- reported that if the Mets make Alonso available, the Cubs believe they can use Christopher Morel "as a centerpiece player in return."

Morel had a nice year power-wise in 2023 during what was his age-24 season, slashing .247/.313/.508. with 26 homers in 107 games. And he has legitimate value because he's making close to the league minimum and is under team control through at least 2027.

But there are serious downsides to Morel's game.

For one, he strikes out at a prodigious rate, having fanned 270 times in 220 career games. That's a rate of 31.6 percent. For comparison, Alonso -- who strikes out his fair share -- has a career K rate of 22.3 percent.

Morel also doesn't really have a position.

He was a DH about half the time in 2023, and played all over the diamond the rest of the time as the Cubs tried to find a defensive home for him. But he was a negative defender at third base and all three outfield positions. Overall, he was worth -7 OAA.

In any event, it seems unlikely that the Mets will deal Alonso this offseason. And if they do, they will almost certainly want a better centerpiece than Morel.