Let’s start by stating the obvious. The mock trade we are going to discuss today is never going to happen. Star players like Manny Machado and Pete Alonso rarely get traded, and never in a straight swap for each other.
There are countless reasons why both of these franchises would prefer to stick with their guy, both in the short and long-term views. Still, in a strange multiverse where A.J. Preller and David Stearns throw caution into the wind and make this bold swap, both the Mets and the Padres could see great benefit.
Let’s explore this hypothetical MLB The Show type trade from all angles, and why this trade would make baseball more fun in 2024.
Why Would This Deal Help the Padres?
The trade we are breaking down is pretty simple. Alonso for Machado in a direct swap.
From a Padres perspective, this deal would allow them to win now in 2024 without taking a step back, while clearing a massive salary from their payroll moving forward. Machado signed an 11-year, $350 million contract extension last offseason.
The deal was backloaded, so Machado is making $13 million a year over the next two seasons, before jumping to $35 million a year over the final seven years of the deal. Clearing this money off the books would be massively beneficial to a Padres team that has to get their payroll under control.
Moving forward, the Padres would be building around Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Tatis Jr., having traded both Machado and Juan Soto in the same offseason. While the loss of Machado would be massive, the same could be said about the addition of Alonso for 2024.
Everyone in the Padres infield could shift one spot to the left to make room for Alonso at first base, pushing Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim into their more natural positions of second base and shortstop respectively. Bogaerts would have to play third, unless of course the Padres decided to put Kim there instead.
While Alonso is a step down defensively compared to Machado, the Padres would have more than enough in place to absorb the loss. Meanwhile, Alonso could represent an upgrade when it comes to run production in the heart of San Diego’s lineup.
Since 2019, Alonso leads Major League Baseball with 192 home runs and 498 RBIs.
Machado finds himself just outside of the top 10 in home runs since 2019 at 138, but is ranked eighth when it comes to his 431 RBIs. Alonso trails Machado in OBP by three points, while having over a 30 point lead when it comes to slugging percentage.
Put those numbers together and Alonso’s .870 OPS since 2019 is well above the .839 mark of Machado. His 133 wRC+ is better than Machado’s (127) as well. This past season, Alonso hit 46 home runs and drove in 118 runs. Machado hit 30 home runs and drove in 91.
After a down-season where the Padres really failed to meet expectations, swapping the Machado for Alonso could be the exact type of personality shift that their clubhouse needs.
Now the downside to Alonso is that he comes with just one year of control, but that would not prevent the Padres from re-signing him in free agency if the fit worked well.
While Alonso will get top dollar in free agency, he would be hard-pressed to top the remaining nine years and $279 million that would be owed to Machado after the 2024 season. Either they keep Alonso at a lesser dollar amount, or they let him walk in free agency and collect the comp picks after extending him the qualifying offer.
Despite how good Machado is, that contract would be considered a negative asset in a vacuum. To turn that into one year of Pete Alonso, and the comp picks that come with him, would be more than fair value in the long run and it would open up so much flexibility for the Padres to do other things.
Why Would This Deal Help the Mets?
From a Mets perspective this trade would be about staking their future to a left side of the infield of Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor. Both Machado and Lindor are on a Hall of Fame track, being two-way players that help immensely both offensively and defensively.
The money owed to Machado is a lot, but Steve Cohen’s Mets can certainly afford it.
Considering the lack of superstars set to hit free agency in the coming years, the Mets may not get many chances to add a talent like Machado in free agency. Juan Soto, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Alonso headline next year’s free agent class, and of that group, only Soto represents a better investment on a nine-figure deal.
Locking Machado in at third base also clears up a lot about the Mets plans both in 2024, but also in the future. Currently former top prospect Brett Baty appears to be the favorite to start in the position this year, especially after Ronny Mauricio tore his ACL in the Dominican Winter League.
Mark Vientos is another former top prospect who figures to garner some playing time at third, but his defensive concerns project him to be more of a 1B/DH type at the big league level.
Baty struggled mightily last year on both sides of the ball, and really has to show a lot this season to solidify the hot corner for years to come. If Machado was acquired, the Mets would no longer have to worry about that position, and instead they could flip both Baty and Vientos to the other corner at first base.
Vientos has already gotten work at first base over the past year and would become the favorite to start at the position come Opening Day. Baty could begin working at the position, and also has some experience playing left field, giving the Mets another option out there.
Also one of the Mets best prospects is Ryan Clifford, who they acquired in the Justin Verlander trade last season. Clifford is a powerful 20-year-old lefty, who hit 22 home runs in his first 90 games played in High-A last season. Clifford is still getting work in the outfield, but more likely profiles to be a first baseman in the big leagues.
The point being that it is far easier to find a first baseman long-term than it is a third baseman. Having Machado under contract for a decade would be more valuable to the Mets than extending Pete Alonso, purely when we are talking about the positional fit.
Why This Deal Won’t Happen
As stated in the introduction, this is a very MLB The Show, or even Fantasy Baseball type trade. One that removes all emotion from the equation.
Pete Alonso means more to the Mets franchise than Machado ever could. He was drafted by the Mets, won the Rookie of the Year in blue and orange and did so by setting the rookie home run record.
Alonso is currently tied with Howard Johnson for fourth-most on the franchise’s all-time home run list. The three names ahead of him are franchise royalty in Mike Piazza, David Wright, and the all-time leader, Darryl Strawberry at 252 home runs.
If Alonso hits 62 home runs like Aaron Judge did in a contract year a few years ago, he could break the franchise record this season. That is obviously unlikely, so Alonso will need to re-sign to become the franchise’s all-time home run king.
Because all contract talks are up in the air right now, trade talks have swirled around Alonso, but the plan seems to be to let him play out this final season, before re-signing him through free agency. The Mets employed a similar strategy with Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Diaz just last offseason.
Meanwhile, for the Padres, Manny Machado could go into Cooperstown with the San Diego “SD’ on his plaque. Speaking of all-time home run records, Machado is actually only 25 home runs away from passing Nate Colbert for the franchise record for the San Diego Padres.
Machado has been the face of the franchise for the Padres and was given this contract to continue to serve in that capacity. That contract extension also included a full no-trade clause, so he would have to sign off on any trade that sends him away from San Diego.
On paper, an exchange of Pete Alonso and Manny Machado is a lot of fun to discuss. You can make an argument that both teams would be better-suited both in the short and long-term for making such a trade.
Still, star players are rarely ever traded for one another and it is unlikely that this would be the exception to that rule.
Instead, we must reserve all dreams of Alonso mashing home runs behind Fernando Tatis Jr., and Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor sharing an infield, for the multiverse.