Pete Alonso says MLB manipulates balls based on free agency

Field Level Media

June 10, 2021 at 12:49 am.

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso floated a conspiracy theory Wednesday when he suggested that MLB’s much-discussed change to the baseball in 2021 is rooted in a ploy to manipulate free-agent salaries.

Alonso wasn’t even asked about the change to the ball, which is considered to be less lively this season after a run of recent seasons where both home runs and strikeouts have risen. A reporter on a videoconference session was asking Alonso about pitchers using foreign substances to get a better grip on the ball.

Alonso said he had no issues with pitchers using something to help their control, especially if they are throwing 99-mph fastballs. He then offered something that was really bothering him.

“I think that the biggest concern is that Major League Baseball manipulates the baseballs, year in and year out, depending on the free-agency class, or guys being in an advanced part of their arbitration,” Alonso said. “I do think that is a big issue with the ball being different every single year.”

Alonso referenced other sports like football and basketball where the ball remains the same every year. But he also referenced golf as a sport where the ball doesn’t change, although golf balls are subject to constant technological advancements.

“Maybe if the league didn’t change the baseballs, pitchers wouldn’t need to use as much sticky stuff because for guys that feel the ball and throw the ball every single day, and for it to change every single year, that is not fair to the people that are … throwing it,” he said.

Alonso is neither in his free-agent season or deep into arbitration. A third-year player, he remains under club control and is making $676,775 this season. He can potentially head to arbitration for the first time in the upcoming offseason and his first free-agent season won’t be until 2025.

But there is significant talent headed into free agency this offseason. Among the players who will be looking for new deals will be shortstops like Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Trevor Story, as well as corner infielders like Freddie Freeman and Kris Bryant.

Alonso, 26, was the National League Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in 2019 when he led the major leagues with 53 home runs. He has nine home runs in 44 games this season, far below his 53-homer pace of 2019.

In 262 career games over three seasons, Alonso is batting .253 with an .893 OPS and has 78 home runs with 285 strikeouts.