Mets prospect Peter Alonso has continued demolishing baseballs during the Arizona Fall League after crushing 36 homers in 132 games in the minors this season, and GM Brodie Van Wagenen said Monday that Alonso will have a chance to win the first base job in Spring Training.
"He is a really hard worker and he has a burning desire to succeed, and he communicated that very clearly to me," Van Wagenen said during the first day of the GM meetings in Carslbad, CA. "I told him that we're gonna give him every opportunity to try to capitalize on that both in the short term and the long term. "
The 23-year-old Alonso, who had dinner with Van Wagenen last week in Arizona, hit .285/.395/.579 between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2018 as he continued to work on his defense at first base.
"He will be going to big league camp and we'll try to get him as many at-bats as we can to see if we can make a decision in terms of how ready he is," Van Wagenen said. "He's gonna continue to work hard on his defense. He's gonna continue to be an impact player offensively, and we'll see how it shakes out come spring training."
It's common practice for many teams to keep their most prized prospects down in the minors longer than necessary in order to gain an extra year of major league service time and/or prevent the player from gaining Super Two status.
But when Van Wagenen was asked point blank if service time would be a consideration regarding Alonso potentially winning the job out of spring training, he intimated that it won't be.
"Well my goal is to win as many games as we can," he said. "I think the wins in April were just as important as the wins in September. ... My philosophy is to try to put the best 25 guys on the field. I think he has a chance to be an impact player, and our goal is to try to have as many impact guys on the field as we can."
If the Mets keep Alonso in the minors for the first two weeks or so of the regular season, they will guarantee an extra year of team control. And regardless of how Alonso performs in spring training, getting the extra year of control is the prudent thing to do.
Van Wagenen also weighed in on Alonso being upset at not being called up to the majors late this past season, saying that Alonso has been a professional who has handled himself "really well" on and off the field.
"I wanted to be able to show him the respect and give him the understanding that he's a priority to this organization, he's a priority to me," Van Wagenen said about his recent dinner with Alonso. "And I want to make sure he knows that he has the full support of the organization as he goes forward."
Aside from Alonso, Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores (if he isn't non-tendered) are the likeliest current in-house first base options for the Mets.