Pete Alonso enters the final year of his contract next season. The New York Mets' slugger has expressed no desire to leave the Big Apple, but the front office reportedly floated his name at the trade deadline. The Chicago Cubs are expected to make a strong push for Alonso, with the Mets' direction as a franchise very much undecided.
For the Cubs, Alonso would address a couple needs. First, well, first. The Cubs need a first baseman, especially if Cody Bellinger opts to leave in free agency. There are backup plans on the roster, such as 25-year-old Matt Mervis, but Chicago would no doubt prefer a veteran stalwart at the position. Hopefully one with some power behind his bat.
Between the signing of Dansby Swanson and the ascent of Pete Crow-Armstrong in the outfield, the Cubs aren't lacking on the defensive front. Chicago could very well field the best defense in the MLB next season. What is lacking — again, especially if Bellinger walks — is power. Chicago needs a player who can drive in runs in the heart of the lineup.
There are few more powerful bats in the league than Alonso. He bashed 46 home runs last season, which is pretty much standard practice for the 28-year-old. He's still in his prime, at a position well-suited to longevity, so the Cubs should, in theory, be willing to spend long-term money to keep Alonso past 2024.
That is, unless Alonso decides against an extension with Chicago and opts to test the free agent market instead. Alonso is a client of the infamously savvy agent Scott Boras, who has a track record of squeezing lucrative new deals for his clients out of the free agent period.
A conversation with Jon Heyman of the New York Post illuminates Boras' expectations for a new Alonso contract, which could land in the ballpark of $250 million. If the number climbs that high, and Alonso expresses a desire to test the waters in free agency, that would up the risk factor for Chicago. it's hard to justify sacrificing a major trade haul if Alonso might walk in a year.
That said, here are a few viable alternatives.
3. C.J. Cron
The Los Angeles Angels traded for C.J. Cron at the deadline last season. It did not go well. A year removed from his first All-Star appearance with the Colorado Rockies in 2022, Cron's numbers plummeted in 2023. He was especially unimpressive after the move to LA, slashing .200/.259/.260 with one home run and five RBIs in 54 at-bats across 15 games with the Angels.
Cron has been plagued with back problems over the last year, in addition to the inconsistent bat. There were still flashes before the deadline, so there's reason to believe Cron can get back to his All-Star form eventually. But, the Angels probably won't pay him. Especially if Shohei Ohtani walks, which could usher in a new era of talent development focused on youth.
At 33 years old, Cron should still have a few quality years left in the tank. One could attribute his recent success in Colorado at least partially to the favorable hitting environment at Coors Field, but Wrigley is a hitters' park, too. Chicago would certainly need to worry less about price with Cron. Last season tanked his market considerably.
If the Cubs want to place a bet on power — Cron cracked 29 home runs and 102 RBIs during the 2022 season — this would make a great deal of sense. There is downside risk, of course, but there typically is. Is it any more risky than paying Alonso deep into his 30s? No, not really.