A source connected to the Brewers said a trade came within “field-goal range,” while an official with the Mets said a deal never came that close, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The Chicago Cubs were reportedly among the other teams that spoke with the Mets about the first baseman.
The report further fuels speculation about the future of Alonso, who can become a free agent after the 2024 season.
“I love representing this organization,” Alonso said Tuesday in response to the report. “Being a Met is the only thing I know. … I don’t know what the future holds but right now I’m a Met and I love being a Met.”
The underachieving Mets, who entered 2023 with the highest payroll in MLB history, unloaded key veterans before the Aug. 1 deadline to retool their farm system with an eye toward the future.
Sending 39-year-old Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers brought back top minor league prospect Luisangel Acuna, while trading 40-year-old Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros netted touted young outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. The Mets also received prospects for relievers David Robertson and Dominic Leone, outfielders Mark Canha and Tommy Pham and infielder Eduardo Escobar.
Trading Alonso — who, at 28, is in the prime of his career — would have meant moving on from the face of the franchise. The Mets could extend Alonso this offseason or entertain trade offers before he plays out his final year of team control.
“Generally with clubs that are going to go through a rebuild, you have to endure five, six, seven years of losing, and we don’t have the appetite for that,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said late last month after trading Robertson and Scherzer but before he sent away Verlander. “We’re not gonna do that. What we want to do is use [owner Steve Cohen’s] investment and enhance this farm system and get us to our larger goal.”
Eppler declined comment to The Athletic on its Alonso report.
Shortly after his trade, Scherzer said he was told the Mets were open to moving players whose contracts ended after the 2023 or 2024 seasons.
“I talked to Billy,” Scherzer told The Athletic a few weeks ago. “I was like, ‘OK, are we reloading for 2024?’ He goes, ‘No, we’re not. Basically our vision now is for 2025-2026, ‘25 at the earliest, more like ‘26. We’re going to be making trades around that.’”
The Scherzer trade stunned Alonso, who helped lead the Mets to 101 wins in 2022.
“Honestly, shocked,” Alonso told reporters at the time. “Max wasn’t around the clubhouse and I didn’t really see him around today, so that’s when I knew it was like, ‘Oh man, this is legit. This isn’t just, like, clickbait.’ ... It’s a loss for us for sure.”
Alonso, a three-time All-Star whom the Mets drafted in 2016, entered Wednesday with a team-leading 39 home runs. His 53 home runs in 2019 remain an MLB rookie record, while his 131 RBIs last year set a new single-season mark for the Mets.
Other top first baseman to receive big contracts recently include Freddie Freeman, who signed a six-year, $162 million deal with the Dodgers before the 2022 season, and Matt Olson, who got an eight-year, $168 million pact after the Braves traded for him that offseason.
A big payday is eventually coming for Alonso, too. What remains to be seen is from whom.