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Van Wagenen meets with top prospect Alonso

Mets first baseman, mashing in AFL, aiming to earn starting job in '19
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Doubtless, new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will spend much of his offseason looking outside the organization for help, in the bullpen and elsewhere on the roster. Yet one of the most significant questions Van Wagenen faces is in-house: He must decide whether Peter Alonso or someone else is the long-term answer at first base.

Following a Saturday night dinner with Alonso in Arizona, Van Wagenen offered a hint to that end.

NEW YORK -- Doubtless, new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will spend much of his offseason looking outside the organization for help, in the bullpen and elsewhere on the roster. Yet one of the most significant questions Van Wagenen faces is in-house: He must decide whether Peter Alonso or someone else is the long-term answer at first base.

Following a Saturday night dinner with Alonso in Arizona, Van Wagenen offered a hint to that end.

"My philosophy is to try to put the best 25 guys on the field," Van Wagenen said. "That may be a cliché, but I think he has a chance to be an impact player. Our goal is to try to have as many impact guys on the field as we can."

Video: Peter Alonso on working towards playing for Mets

The Mets' previous administration was reticent to call up Alonso, despite a season in which he hit 36 home runs with 119 RBIs at Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. While it will be another five months before Van Wagenen has an opportunity to make his words reality, he made certain to stop in Arizona on his way to the General Managers Meetings to meet the Mets' No. 2 prospect.

"I think he's a professional. I think he's handled himself really well both on and off the field," Van Wagenen said. "I wanted to be able to show him the respect and give him the understanding that he's a priority to this organization. He's a priority to me. And I wanted to make sure he knows that he has the full support of the organization as he goes forward."

Working against Alonso are two distinct issues. One is Dominic Smith, a former first-round Draft pick who has hit .210 in 105 Major League games but still has standing in the organization. The other is that by waiting until late May or early June to call up Alonso, they can dampen his salary later in his career by preventing him from becoming a Super Two arbitration-eligible player -- though Van Wagenen, like most front-office executives, downplayed that strategy when asked about it.

"My goal is to win as many games as we can, so my goal is to put the guys on the field that can help us do it," Van Wagenen said. "The wins in April are just as important as the wins in September."

All Alonso can do is continue to hit, which he has done with aplomb in the Arizona Fall League. Bashing five home runs in his first 20 games there, Alonso made the AFL Fall Stars Game. Consider it a talking point for his chat with Van Wagenen.

Video: EAST@WEST: Alonso drills a solo homer in the 1st

"I feel like I can provide power with the best of them," Alonso said last week in an interview with MLB Network. "Also, I feel like I'm a very, very good run-producer. I don't want to brag, but I led the Minor Leagues in RBIs and home runs, and I feel like that can help the team win.

"I just want to go out there and compete and win the job. Come Spring Training, and right now, I need to just keep playing hard every day, and the results are going to follow. I know the hard work and dedication I've put in to becoming a better baseball player; it's been my life's work. I'm just going to keep building, and don't stop until I get there."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets