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Mets owner Cohen says he expects Alonso to explore free agency but wants to keep him

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen doesn’t anticipate a resolving Pete Alonso’s future with the team until after the season.

The 29-year-old three-time All-Star is eligible for free agency after the World Series. He hired Scott Boras as an agent last fall and avoided arbitration last month by agreeing to a $20.5 million, one-year contract. The first baseman has 192 homers in five seasons.

“I don’t expect anything to transpire before Pete reaches free agency,” Cohen said in a preview of the Mets’ official podcast, “Meet at the Apple,” that was released Friday. “We’re always open to conversation, but he’s earned the right to explore his value, and I’m highly supportive of all players doing that.”

Alonso batted .217 with a .318 on-base percentage, 46 homers and 118 RBIs last year. That followed a 2022 season in which Alonso hit .271 with 40 homers and 131 RBIs, which tied for the big league lead.,

The 2019 NL Rookie of the Year hit a big league-high 53 homers in 2019.

“Listen, we want to keep him,” Cohen said. “He’s an important part of our team today and hopefully in the future.”

Cohen praised Alonso’s durability and ability to play in the New York spotlight. He also pointed out Alonso’s status as a fan favorite by noting that, “I’m not tone deaf, OK?”

“I hope he hits 55 home runs and makes it so difficult on me in free agency,” Cohen said. “I would call that a great outcome.”

The Mets have shown a willingness to reach long-term deals with their top players even after they’ve reached free agency. They signed closer Edwin Díaz to a $102 million, five-year contract in November 2022 and agreed to terms with outfielder Brandon Nimmo on a $162 million, eight-year deal a month later.

“Just like we ended up figuring it out with Edwin Díaz and Brandon Nimmo, it would be my hope that we’d do the same with Pete,” Cohen said.

ROYALS ADD AUSTIN NOLA

Catcher Austin Nola major league finalized a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals after getting released from a minor league deal by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Nola, 34, batted .146 with a .260 on-base percentage, one homer and eight RBIs in 52 games with the Padres last season. Nola gets a $975,000 salary while in the major leagues and $175,000 while in the minors,. and he can earn $250,000 in performance bonuses.

The Brewers signed Nola in early January, then released him after signing catcher Gary Sánchez this week.

PIRATES FINALIZE KELLER DEAL

The Pittsburgh Pirates finalized their $77 million, five-year contract with All-Star right-hander Mitch Keller.

Keller, who turns 28 on April 4, went 13-9 with a 4.21 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 194 1/3 innings last year. He already has been named the starting pitcher for the Pirates’ March 28 opener at Miami.

RED SOX ADD FAMILIAR FACE

Left-hander Joely Rodríguez agreed to a minor league contract with Boston. The 32-year-old went 0-0 with a 6.55 ERA in 11 appearances for the Red Sox last season while striking out 14 and walking six over 11 innings.

He is 5-9 with a 4.79 ERA in 168 appearances with the Philadelphia (2016-17), Texas (2020-21), the New York Yankees (2021) and Mets (2022) and the Red Sox. He also pitched in Japan from 2018-19.

PERALTA, SMITH JOIN CUBS

Outfielder David Peralta and first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith agreed to minor league contracts with the Chicago Cubs and will attend big league spring training.

Peralta, 36, hit .259 with a .294 on-base percentage, seven homers and 55 RBIs in 133 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Smith, 28, hit .254 with a .326 on-base percentage, 12 homers and 46 RBIs in 153 games with Washington.

FREEMAN’S FAST START

Freddie Freeman homered on his first Cactus League pitch while helping the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 4-1.

The 34-year-old finished third in the NL MVP balloting last year. The seven-time All-Star and 2020 MVP hit .331 with a ..410 on-base percentage, 29 homers and 102 RBIs.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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