Clock Ticking On Michael Conforto Extension
With pitchers and catchers reporting today for the New York Mets, it is officially the beginning of Spring Training. This is an important time not just because it is the unofficial start of the 2021 baseball season, but also because the clock is officially ticking on the Mets trying to extend Michael Conforto.
This is Conforto’s last season before entering free agency. While Conforto has publicly stated he is open to signing an extension with the Mets, he has also indicated he wants this matter resolved one way or another by Opening Day. Put another way, Conforto doesn’t want negotiations to be a distraction during the season, and as such, if he is not extended by the start of the season, he will test free agency.
The question for Conforto is what exactly that extension would look like. For a point of reference, George Springer just signed a six year $150 million deal ($25 million AAV) with the Toronto Blue Jays. That was a deal the Mets were apparently unwilling to match, and it was a deal with exceeded Sandy Alderson’s preference for deals five years or shorter.
Now, there are differences between Springer and Conforto. Springer is arguably the better player, but he is also four years older. There’s also the matter of Conforto taking the mantle from David Wright in his being a beloved homegrown player and a leader in the clubhouse. Overall, when it comes to Conforto, he checks all the boxes from a team perspective.
That’s not to say the Mets should extend Conforto. For starters, the organization also has to have extension talks with Francisco Lindor. They also need to do the same with Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. After this year, they will have to do the same with Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and at some point, Jacob deGrom. It is fair to question where extending Conforto lies in the pecking order.
There are some questions with Conforto. While he exploded at the plate last year returning to his pre-shoulder injury levels, he declined significantly in the field. While he was a 1 DRS in right, he was a -5 OAA which was a steep drop-off from previous seasons. Part of that was Conforto’s sprint speed taking a significant hit from 27.5 ft/sec to 26.8.
What is incumbent on the Mets now is determining how much of that is due to the disjointed nature of the 2020 season, and how much of that is the first step in decline. It’s not an easy answer, but it is one the Mets need to reasonably be able to decipher during Spring Training, which just began today.
Overall, extending Conforto would be extremely popular with the fans, and it will likely be very popular in the Mets clubhouse. There seems to be the appetite for all involved to get it done. The question now is whether they can. With Opening Day on April 1, Conforto and the Mets have 43 days to get it done.