Alonso’s status an issue for union watching service time
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Pete Alonso is hitting .406 at spring training and leads the Mets with three home runs. Yet, if New York keeps him in the minor leagues for the first 15 days of the season, his eligibility for free agency would be pushed back a year until after the 2025 season.
“Seeing what players are going through where their service time is being manipulated, on the front end and/or in the middle, is a concern, has been a concern and will continue to be a concern,” union head Tony Clark said after meeting with the Mets.
Alonso nearly homered again Wednesday, but wind knocked down his fourth-inning drive off Houston’s Gerrit Cole. Alonso had 36 homers and 119 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A last season.
“What I wanted to do at the beginning of camp was just force their hands,” the Tampa native said. “I wanted to work as hard as I could every single day and play as well as I possibly could. I want them to be able to make that decision easily based off my performance. With my expectations of myself, I’m happy with how I’m playing right now.”
Clark, a former All-Star first baseman and a former Met, hopes Alonso starts the season in the major leagues.
“I hope that Pete continues to do what Pete has always done, and I hope that he does have opportunity to break (with) the squad as a result of the production that he’s authored in spring training,” Clark said.
Kris Bryant was brought up by the Chicago Cubs in 2015 when he was left one day short of being eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. The players’ association filed a grievance, but the case has not been tried.
Teams say they have a complete right to decide when players are ready for the major leagues.
“We believe it’s hurting the industry,” Clark said. “Being able to say that you have the best players on the field at all times is something you’d like to be able to say. In the current climate, you can’t say that.”
New Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, a former agent, has stated New York needs to carry its best 25 players to Washington for the March 28 opener.
“One game in April is the same as one game in September,” Clark said. “It can make the difference in whether you’re shaking hands in October and being excited about the postseason or you’re not.”
NOTES: INFs Jed Lowrie (knee discomfort) and Todd Frazier (oblique strain) are participating in light baseball activities, but neither has played in a game. “When we get this right, it’ll be because I’ll be ready to play every day,” said Lowrie, who isn’t running yet. Added Frazier, who has finished the second part of his rehab and awaits the next: “If I start thinking ahead I’ll get anxious and some bad things might happen, but we’re getting back on track a little bit.” … RHP Noah Syndergaard made his fourth start and worked five-plus scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the Astros, allowing two hits. … Manager Mickey Callaway has been impressed with lefty reliever Luis Avilan, who has a 2.25 ERA and has been more difficult on right-handed batters than lefties. “The changeup is filthy. He might be our best reliever against right-handers right now. They can’t hit it, it’s unbelievable,” Callaway said.