Should the Cardinals target this free-agent first baseman next offseason?

For as much as St. Louis fans may dislike him, Pete Alonso would provide a massive boost to the Cardinals' future lineups.

New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals
New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

New York Mets' slugger Pete Alonso will be a free agent next offseason. Alonso, 29, agreed to a one-year, $20.5 million deal to avoid arbitration this year. This is his last year of arbitration, and he will be able to enter the open market next winter.

The first baseman is known in St. Louis primarily for his antics. This past year, Alonso mistakenly threw Masyn Winn's first major league hit into the stands. The apoplectic Cardinals' fan base clamored for Alonso to be plucked with a pitch the next time he came up to bat.

In 2022, Pete Alonso was hit by a pitch in the head, and the Mets retaliated by plucking Nolan Arenado. This led to Alonso and first base coach Stubby Clapp getting tangled up. These two incidents have led fans to dislike Pete Alonso. However, he could still provide plenty of value, and he could continue the tradition of the St. Louis Cardinals having some of the best first basemen in all of baseball.

The New York Mets' president David Stearns has stated that they don't intend on extending Pete Alonso after this year. This will lead to him entering free agency as a 30-year-old. Alonso is most known for hitting home runs, possessing wild exit velocities, and having a strong track record of health. Alonso has played in at least 93% of games since his rookie season in 2019. He has three All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year Award, and he has won the Home Run Derby twice.

Alonso would likely be fetching a contract greater than $30 million annually, and a 6-year contract seems probable with some opt-outs. The Cardinals could afford that contract, especially with the salaries of Paul Goldschmidt, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson coming off the books next year. If the Cardinals don't extend Goldschmidt after this season, there is a clear gap at first base.

There are a few factors that may change the team's interest in Pete Alonso. First, plenty of big-market teams will be in on Alonso. The Yankees, Angels, Giants, and Astros could all use a first baseman, so John Mozeliak will be going up against the big dogs in the bidding war. Also, if Jordan Walker doesn't show improvement defensively in 2024, he may find himself grabbing a first baseman's mitt to man that position.

With two starting pitchers departing and the organization's pitching prospects being mildly underwhelming, St. Louis would probably be wiser spending their money on starting pitching next year. Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes, Max Fried, Zack Wheeler, Walker Buehler, and Michael Soroka are all free agents next year, among others. If the team's budget stays similar to what it was this offseason, adding a top-of-the-rotation arm should take priority over signing a bat-first first baseman.

A signing of Pete Alonso would surely scare some fans off, but with his bat and serviceable defense at first base, it would be tough to pass up on a perennial All-Star talent. The Cardinals would have to not extend Paul Goldschmidt, find pitching help elsewhere, and be confident in Jordan Walker's progression to pull the trigger on a move like this, but Alonso would push the Cardinals' lineup to one of the best in baseball.