Mets Star ‘Willing To Listen’ on Extension That’s Been Projected at $96 Million

Francisco Alvarez

Getty The New York Mets 22-year-old Francisco Alvarez could be a candidate for a long-term extension from the team.

The New York Mets could have a franchise catcher on their hands with Francisco Álvarez, a 22-year-old who swatted 25 homers in his 2023 season while making encouraging defensive strides.

As such, the team may opt to extend him to a long-term deal, a possibility that the team hasn’t publicly discussed but that the player, at least, is interested in.

“The Mets haven’t broached the subject of an extension yet for Francisco Alvarez, but he’s thought willing to listen,” Jon Heyman reported for the New York Post.

That would confirm a previous report from Tom Healy of Newsday, who noted that “Alvarez is interested in discussing a long-term contract extension.”

How Much Would it Cost for the New York Mets to Extend Francisco Álvarez?

Álvarez is under a team-friendly, pre-arbitration deal until 2026, then he will see three arbitration-eligible seasons before becoming a free agent following the 2028 season. Though there’s no pressure for the Mets to extend Álvarez before then, doing so could be a sound payroll strategy if he agrees to a team-friendly deal before even getting close to the open market.

Reflecting on the cost of such an extension for The Athletic, Tim Britton noted that his arbitration earnings could be in the $26 million range, leading to the projection of an eight-year, $96 million extension for the catcher. 

“This spring represents a chance for the Mets to get in on the ground floor if they believe Alvarez is on the verge of a large breakout,” Britton wrote. “He’s already ahead of where Keibert Ruiz was when Ruiz signed his ($50 million) extension with the Nationals last spring.”

It’s a team-building strategy that the Atlanta Braves have used, locking in players like Michael Harris, Spencer Strider and Sean Murphy to early-career extensions.

Whether or not the Mets see Álvarez as that kind of breakout star who would warrant such an extension is not known, but it is a strategy president of baseball operations David Stearns has taken in the past.

“Stearns is new to the Mets but not to deals like this,” Healy reported. “In Houston, as an assistant general manager, he was part of a front-office group that pursued these contracts and consummated them sometimes. After he took over as general manager in Milwaukee, he handed out a couple: to righthander Freddy peralta … and to lefthander Aaron Ashby.”

The New York Mets Front Office Is Willing to Keep Players it Likes

For now, a long-term extension seems like a possibility that Álvarez can make into a reality if he demonstrates more promise in the early part of 2024. Though he proved an ability to hit the ball out of the park, his 2023 slash line of .209/.284./437 suggests he has work to do on putting more balls in play. And as the Mets gave up 0.96 stolen bases per game last season, the fourth-worst mark in MLB, he might stand to improve his ability to pick off runners as well.

But if he can convince Stearns that he will continue to make major strides, it seems Álvarez would be a good fit for an early extension with the team.

“The Mets have been one of the most aggressive spenders in recent years, with owner Steve Cohen having shown little regard for the bottom line since purchasing the club,” Darragh McDonald wrote for MLB Trade Rumors. “That presumably gives them the ability to lock in any player they decide they want to keep. They have some significant contracts on the books in the short term, some for players no longer on the roster, but extensions for young players generally ramp up over time, with smaller salaries in the early years.”

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