By Zach Gewelb
The New York Mets are giving one of their most exciting minor league players the cold shoulder.
Peter Alonso, who represented the club at the 2018 Futures Game, will not get a taste of big league action when rosters expand Sept. 1, according to assistant general manager John Ricco.
Alonso has belted 33 homers and 111 RBIs this season split between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. Instead of calling him up, Ricco said the Mets will use Jay Bruce, Dominic Smith and Wilmer Flores at first base the rest of the season.
“He has had an unbelievable season, he has done everything we have asked, he had a great year in Double-A, moving up to Triple-A, he’s having a real good year, but the way we see it, the lack of playing time is a big factor,” Ricco said of Alonso.
Bruce and Smith figure to split time against righties, while Flores is the likely choice to start against southpaws.
Also possibly factoring into the Mets’ decision is that Alonso, 23, does not need to be placed on the 40-man roster this offseason for protection from the Rule 5 draft. By postponing the move, the Mets can protect an additional player this winter and allow Alonso to compete for a spot in Spring Training next season.
The club will also likely assign Alonso to play in the Arizona Fall League, consisting of some of the best minor league prospects.
“We would have loved to reward him for the season he’s had and the work he’s done, but we think it’s more beneficial for him to get some rest and we’ll see what the fall plan will be for him,” Ricco said.
While the Mets’ decision makes sense on one level, it doesn’t send a positive message throughout the organization. If a player on the cusp of the major league’s has a strong season, he deserves a chance to get a taste of life in the majors when rosters expand.
Even if he doesn’t play, Alonso would get a chance to meet some of his future teammates, go through workouts and batting practices and soak up information. Any playing time would be a bonus.
And yes, the 40-man roster situation is an issue worth considering. But if Alonso has cemented his status as a part of the team’s future, the Mets are going to have to add him to the 40-man roster anyway. And there are certainly some expendable pieces on the roster that the team wouldn’t shed tears over losing.
The bottom line is Alonso earned his chance and the Mets are depriving him of the opportunity.
Alonso’s agents, Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson, have brought more attention to the situation by calling the Mets out for their treatment of Alonso.
“It is disheartening for Peter after producing an historically great season and exceeding every request from the Mets player development staff,” Karon and Johnson said in a statement to the New York Times. “I’m sure it is equally disheartening for Mets fans who would enjoy watching and getting to know one of the more talented and entertaining players they’ve developed in years.”
With Alonso’s agents chiming in, it seems the situation is about to go from bad to worse as the Mets continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The club can choose to do whatever they want with Alonso. It’s their right to do so. But showing top prospects that they won’t be rewarded for their strong play may not be the best course of action for a team with nothing to play for in September.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe