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Mets have a stud in Pete Alonso, but will they keep him?

If he continues hitting home runs at the pace he did in his 2019 NL Rookie of the Year season, Pete Alonso will pass Darryl Strawberry for most home runs by a New York Met sometime in 2023. 

If he continues to rack up RBI the way he did last season, he will catch David Wright, the Mets’ all-time leader with 970, sometime in 2026. Even scoring 103 runs as he did in 2019, it would take Alonso until 2028 to equal Wright’s franchise record of 946. And he would need all the way to 2030 to reach Wright’s mark of 1,777 hits in a Mets uniform.

Assuming continued good health and comparable production, it is clear that Alonso could turn out to be the greatest hitter this franchise has ever had, which says nearly as much about the Mets, a historically pitching-oriented organization, as it does about their sensational 24-year-old first baseman. Clearly, he is the most exciting rookie to wear the blue and orange since the glory days of Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, who won back-to-back Rookie of the Year Awards in 1983 and 1984.

As expected, Alonso won in a landslide, getting 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes; the one holdout voted for Mike Soroka, the Atlanta Braves 22-year-old stud right-hander.

“Holy expletive,’’ Alonso said — yes, he said “expletive’’ — on hearing the results, because off the field, he has conducted himself in the manner of what people call a “regular guy.’’ 

But from virtually his first day in the major leagues, there was no doubt Alonso was a special talent.

“Making the club out of spring training, I didn’t want to prove I could just be a regular big-league ballplayer,’’ Alonso said before the award was announced. “I wanted to prove I could be a really good one.’’

That he has, and chances are he will continue to be for the foreseeable future. 

The Mets, however, are another story. If they run true to form, the odds of Pete Alonso still being a Met after he becomes a free agent in 2025 are slim and none, and slim’s out of town.

Pete Alonso reacts after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves. Alonso won this year’s NL Rookie of the Year award. (AP)

Just in the past decade alone, the Mets’ frugality has allowed Justin Turner, who hit .300 for them in three seasons of part-time duty, escape to the Dodgers in free agency, where he duplicated those three seasons as a full-timer. And then there is the case of Daniel Murphy, who virtually single-handedly put them into the 2015 World Series, but was never even given an offer when he hit the market a month later. Murphy went to the Nationals, for whom he had three terrific seasons and nearly won the 2016 NL MVP before being waylaid by injuries.

The point is, the Mets have never been very good at holding on to promising young players, not even the ones they had raised from pups, like Murphy, or lucked into at a young age, as they did when they plucked Turner off the waiver wire in 2010. Fans of my generation will recall a previous Mets regime giving up on a young Nolan Ryan in exchange for an aging Jim Fregosi, and trading away a 22-year-old Amos Otis for Joe Foy.

With the notable exception of Mike Piazza, throughout their history, the Mets have been much better at taking on other’s teams rejects, like Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Cuddyer and Jason Bay.

But Alonso affords them a chance to rewrite some of that history.

Of course, the odds are he will be hard-pressed to repeat his accomplishments of 2019, when in the year of the rabbit ball he crushed the franchise home run record, and edged past the all-time MLB rookie record, with 53 home runs, and knocked in an MLB-leading 120, four shy of the team record shared by Wright and Piazza.

But Alonso showed enough in his rookie season to inspire confidence that he is likely to be a very productive hitter for a very long time. Which team will be the beneficiary of his production, however, is very much open to conjecture.

In fairness, the Mets have shown signs that perhaps the philosophy is changing under agent-turned-GM Brodie Van Wagenen. It show in his aggressiveness in locking down Jacob deGrom, who may win his second straight NL Cy Young later this week, to a long-term contract just before Opening Day 2019. 

And in his ability to convince ownership to bring Alonso north with the club last spring rather than hold him back to preserve another precious year of team control. Despite all Brodie’s missteps in his own rookie season, and there were a few, his decision to promote Alonso to the majors last March was a wise one.

“I want to thank the New York Mets for believing in me from day one,’’ Alonso said. “I mean, on Opening Day they had me hitting second against Max Scherzer. That gave me all the confidence I needed.’’ 

It is encouraging to note that Cespedes will be coming off the books in 2021, and will be rid of obligations to deGrom and Robinson Cano — a disastrous signing that fits neatly into the Mets’ history of same — following the 2023 season. That makes it at least a little likelier that the Mets will have the money, and the inclination, to hold onto Alonso when the rest of baseball can take a shot at him.

Of course, all this can be nipped in the bud by the Mets locking Alonso into a long-term deal before the moment of truth arrives, as they did with Wright and Jose Reyes in 2007. 

Otherwise, they run the risk of once more seeing a home-grown prospect achieve his potential ... in some other team’s uniform.

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