Mets ‘reward’ Pete Alonso, raise salary to $652,521

Pete Alonso
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Mets renewed the contracts of many of their pre-arbitration players on Wednesday. First baseman Pete Alonso was among them. Per’s Anthony DiComo, the Mets wanted to “reward” Alonso for his highly productive 2019 season, giving him a 17.5 percent raise to $652,521. He earned $555,000 last year. The league minimum salary for 2020 is $563,500, for reference.

Alonso was “shocked and thrilled” with the pay raise.

Alonso, you may recall, won a $1 million first place prize in the Home Run Derby last year. He donated $50,000 to each the Wounded Warrior Project and Tunnel To Towers. Those two donations alone eclipse his pay raise from 2019 to ’20. His prize for winning the Home Run Derby is only $207,521 less than his combined salaries for 2019-20.

Frequent readers of this website will be shocked at where I’m going with this, but we have a problem here! The system is broken, as it allows teams to criminally underpay their best players and claim benevolence when they toss a pre-arbitration player what amounts to change found in between the couch cushions.

Last season, at the age of 24, Alonso hit .260/.358/.583 with 30 doubles, 120 RBI, and 103 runs scored in 693 plate appearances. He led all of baseball with 53 home runs, obliterating the Mets’ single-season home run record of 41 previously held by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltrán. Along with making the NL All-Star team and winning the Home Run Derby, Alonso finished seventh in NL MVP Award balloting and won the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

Assuming he can stay healthy and productive, Alonso will eventually be paid commensurate to his value. The Mets, if they don’t trade him, might approach him with the idea of a contract extension as he nears his first year of arbitration eligibility following the 2021 campaign. Otherwise, he will have to wait until after the 2024 season to become a free agent. Of course, Alonso could potentially suffer a career-ending injury before then, permanently removing that carrot at the end of the stick, which is why it’s important to get paid now rather than later.

For as “overpaid” as the handful of players at the top are, many more like Alonso are systematically underpaid. Both teams and the players themselves have caught onto this and have arrived at somewhat of an equilibrium, as we have seen increasingly more contract extensions involving pre-arbitration players than we have in years past. Ultimately, though, the union needs to work to find a way to make sure players like Alonso are able to earn pay more in line with the work they put in on the field.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.