At times Peter Alonso has been portrayed via scouting reports as the worst defensive first baseman since Mike Piazza, if you remember how that ill-fated -- and brief -- position switch went for the Hall of Fame catcher late in his Mets' career.
In that case it would make sense to dangle Alonso, the 23-year old slugger, as trade bait to American League teams this winter to help fill immediate needs elsewhere, notably at catcher or in the bullpen.
Except the Mets insist it's not the case at all.
"His defense is really getting carved up, but it's not as bad as people seem to think," assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi told SNY by phone. "I don't think it's bad at all. He's a great worker and he's worked to make himself a lot better.
"He's never going to be a Gold Glover but he can play the position. And I think his power is going to play at the big-league level, which would be very valuable. I'm a big fan. I believe he's going to be a very good player for us."
Ricciardi at first said he would compare Alonso defensively to the Milwaukee Brewers' Jesus Aguilar, who is similar in size, with both players listed at 6-foot-3, in the 250-pound range.
But then as he talked about how Alonso has improved in all phases defensively, a more familiar comparison came to mind.
"With the work he's done," said Ricciardi, "he'll be every bit as good as (Lucas) Duda was over there."
That comp might bring back painful memories to Mets fans, who will never forget Duda's wild throw to the plate that allowed Eric Hosmer to score the tying run in the ninth inning of the World Series-ending Game 5 against the Royals.
Other than that infamous misplay, however, Duda actually was a solid defender. He averaged four errors per season as the everyday first baseman from 2014-17 and moved pretty well for a big guy, especially after slimming down significantly early in his major league career.
Put it this way: if Ricciardi is right about the Duda comparison, and Alonso's offensive prowess does translate to the majors, he'll probably be the everyday first baseman for years to come.
Remember, Alonso had a spectacular 2018 with the bat, hitting .285 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI in 132 minor-league games, splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A.
And he's continued thumping in the Arizona Fall League: through seven games he's hitting .385 with two doubles, two home runs, and seven RBI, adding up to an impressive 1.176 OPS.
A major-league scout on site in Arizona agreed with Ricciardi that Alonso's defense has improved from where it was at the start of the 2018 season, though he wasn't as bullish in his overall assessment.
"For me he's still below-average defensively -- agility, footwork, handling throws," the scout said, "but you can see he's gotten better with his movement, the angles he takes, and he makes the routine plays.
"I'll say this: the way he hits, you'll live with his defense at first base. He's not just a slugger. He has a solid approach; he'll hit the ball where it's pitched, he'll take it the other way rather than try to pull everything."
The Mets have a similar opinion on Alonso's offense. They believe he'll hit for a decent average against big-league pitching, perhaps in the .270 range, and pop 30-plus home runs a year.
All of which makes it unlikely they would trade him.
"I think he'll definitely play for us," was the way Ricciardi put it.
He was also quick to say that whoever the Mets hire as the new GM might have his own ideas about improving the team, but it's clear the current regime values Alonso highly and doesn't believe it would get equal value in a trade.
The scout I spoke to seconded that opinion, making the point that another team isn't going to give up a premium-position player or a top starting pitcher for a first baseman.
When I asked the scout if it would make sense for the Mets to consider trading Alonso for a catcher like the Royals' Salvador Perez, who at age 28 has three years and $39.6 million remaining on his contract, he didn't hesitate to say no.
"Maybe you'd think about it if Alonso was a complete butcher at first base and you had to trade him somewhere where he could be a DH," the scout said. "But like I said, it's not that extreme.
"The Mets definitely need to address catching, but they'd be much better off signing someone like (Wilson) Ramos as a free agent, and holding onto their assets. Alonso has value for them."
So then the question becomes how do the Mets sort out their logjam at first base. Even if it seems they have cooled on Dominic Smith as a potential impact player, they still have Wilmer Flores, and Mickey Callaway has said Jay Bruce could very well be the regular first baseman next season.
However, Ricciardi noted that with all the uncertainty regarding Yoenis Cespedes, who isn't expected back until at least mid-season after surgery on both heels, the Mets are likely to need Bruce back in the outfield next season.
The rest simply may be up to Alonso to win the job, perhaps as early as next spring training.
"That stuff will work itself out," Ricciardi said of the crowded first base situation. "Alonso is going to play first base for us at some point. It's just a matter of when he's ready."